Dr Detlef Hosemann, Helaba's CFO, primarily attributes the earnings position, having improved again compared to the previous financial year, to the good earnings situation for operating business and to the stabilisation of financial markets and the associated, substantially higher net trading income.
Net interest income, slightly over EUR 1 billion, was EUR 78 million higher than last year. Profitable new business and lower refinancing costs contributed to this.
Provisions for loans and advances were EUR -238 million (2011: EUR -273 million). Net additions of EUR -241 million (2011: EUR -179 million) were made in relation to individual allowances and global individual allowances.
At the end of the year there was a loan loss provision buffer in the form of a portfolio allowance of EUR 304 million to cover loans not exposed to an acute risk of default. After provision for losses on loans and advances, the net interest income rose from EUR 794 million to EUR 907 million.Net commission income improved slightly to EUR 263 million (2011: EUR 254 million). Of this increase, approximately EUR 9 million can be attributed to payment transactions and, therefore, principally to an expansion of business of the S-Group Bank NRW. Commission income from Helaba Invest's asset management activities also showed a positive development. Net trading income amounted to EUR 411 million (2011: EUR -44 million). This very good result mainly resulted from the growth in interest-related business to EUR 375 million (2011: EUR -4 million) thanks to the European sovereign debt crisis having calmed down in the second half of the year. The result from hedges/derivatives and derivatives not held for trading was EUR -111 million, after having amounted to EUR 292 million in the year before. One major reason for this negative result was the reversal effect of taking the liquidity components of foreign currencies into account in the scope of valuing derivatives (cross currency basis spread). At EUR -13 million, the result from financial investments (incl. result from companies accounted for using the equity method) showed a marginal improvement compared to the previous year. Write-downs on financial investments mainly relate to shares held by Frankfurter Sparkasse in Landesbank Berlin. The other operating result improved from EUR 209 million to EUR 236 million. This is predominantly attributable to proceeds from disposal of a property that was used by the bank. General administration costs rose by EUR 184 million to almost EUR 1.2 billion. The rise in personnel expenses relates in part to costs for staff transferred into the S-Group Bank as well as to the salary adjustments in 2012. An average of 6,075 members of staff were employed over the course of the year in the group company, compared with 5,888 in the previous year. There was a considerable increase in material expenditure, from EUR 449 million in the year before to EUR 531 million. Apart from current and one-off expenses in the S-Group Bank NRW, an increase in the costs for deposit guarantee facilities is particularly noticeable in operational banking activities. General administration costs compare with operating revenues in an amount of EUR 1,931 million (2011: EUR 1,762 million), which equates to a cost-income ratio of 61.2 per cent (2011: 56.6 %). Return on equity before taxes dropped from 9.2 per cent to 8.4 per cent. Group earnings after tax, at EUR 318 million, were EUR 79 million lower than the previous year due to a significant increase in the income tax charge. The increased tax burden, also relative to pre-tax earnings, is primarily attributable to lower tax-exempt income and to a special effect in the previous year resulting from the capitalisation of deferred taxes. Full-year earnings after taxes, which include results for the period of EUR 56 million without an effect on income, increased by EUR 16 million to EUR 374 million. Hosemann is satisfied with the level as well as the quality of the result: "Overall earnings are very much sustainable. Structurally, they are characterised by the result from customer business. Due to the costs of integration, the takeover of WestLB's S-Group Bank is not reflected very positively in these results as yet. However, the structure of our income sources has been further strengthened by its customer and S-Group orientation."