UK's Metro Bank reports first annual profit

Metro Bank branch exterior

Metro Bank has posted its first yearly profit and record growth in lending and deposits, but spooked investors by revealing a decline in its core profitability and capital cushion.

The challenger bank reported a statutory profit before tax of £18.7m, while the underlying figure was £20.8m compared to an £11.7m loss the year before.

Shares in Metro Bank, the United Kingdom challenger bank, fell in early trade on Wednesday after rapid growth in loans a year ago ate into its capital ratio, raising concerns of a cash call on shareholders. The bank, which operates across London and the south of England, is now aiming for 100 branches rather than the 110 it had previously meant to open.

Customer account numbers broke through the one million mark for the first time, with 302,000 opened during 2017.

"We are definitely going to have to raise capital in 2019, but we may choose to go in late 2018", Chief Executive Craig Donaldson said in an emailed statement.

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Deposit growth was fastest among business customers, particularly small and medium sized enterprises (SME), Metro Bank said, adding that commercial deposits rose 55% and made up around 53% of the total deposit base.

Since 2010 Metro has grown steadily to the extent that a year ago the company's lending rose 64% to £9.6bn.

The company, which listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2016, also raised its 2020 targets and said it would open 12 branches this year, creating 900 jobs.

"As we enter new markets across the country, we will continue to create more jobs and bring real competition and choice for personal and business banking customers".



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