Metro Bank’s annual loss narrows as turnaround picks up pace

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People walk past a Metro Bank in London, Britain, May 22, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

(Reuters) – Metro Bank reported on Wednesday a smaller loss and higher margins for 2021, as the British high-street lender’s turnaround actions bear fruit and the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact.

The London-based bank, who in 2010 became the first lender to be granted a high-street banking licence in Britain in 150 years, has had a tumultuous two years after an accounting blunder in 2019 led to fines and probes by UK regulators.

It has since launched a turnaround plan focussing on cost controls, revenue and net interest margin growth, balance sheet improvement and infrastructure investment, among others.

Metro reported an underlying pretax loss of 171.3 million pounds ($232.87 million) for the year ended Dec. 31, compared with 271.8 million pounds the prior year, when it was hit by large pandemic-related bad loan provisions.

The lender’s statutory pretax loss stood at 245.1 million pounds for the year after a 5.38 million pounds fine from the Bank of England in December and provisioning for the British financial regulator’s ongoing probe, and other costs.

Its net interest margin, a key measure of profitability, rose to 1.4% from 1.22% last year, helping the bank start 2022 on a strong footing as it continues to focus on improving yields amid rising interest rates.

Loans rose 2% to 12.29 billion pounds for the year and deposits also inched up 2% to 16.45 billion pounds.

($1 = 0.7356 pounds)

Metro Bank’s annual loss narrows as turnaround picks up pace

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