BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) recorded a net profit of $136 million amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, declining 14.2 percent from the previous year.

In a statement issued after its annual general meeting on Friday, BIBD said it posted a revenue of $329 million last year – a four percent drop from its 2019 earnings of $155.4 million.

The largest Islamic financial institution in Brunei attributed the revenue to financing, leasing and investment activities.

BIBD also reported a nine percent decrease in total assets to $9.71 billion in 2020 after a record high of $10.68 billion in the preceding year.

The bank saw a significant fall in customer deposits amounting to $6.73 billion, the lowest in at least five years.

BIBD Group Chairman YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah said the bank’s financial position remained resilient and continued to post strong profitability in 2020, despite COVID-induced challenges.

“Given the challenges presented by COVID-19 in 2020, our numbers were expected to be subdued, however, the BIBD Group was still able to remain the most profitable in the Brunei market,” he said in BIBD’s 2020 annual report.

“We remained prudent in our participation and selective in our businesses, swapping profit for heightened risk management which has allowed us to maintain our stable growth,” he added.

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin, who is also the second minister of finance and economy, said Islamic banking represented the largest share of the banking sector at 62.4 per cent.

Source: BIBD 2020 Annual Report

BIBD became a wholly-owned Bruneian bank after the government acquired Fajr Capital’s 29.7 percent stake last year, making it the majority shareholder.

Other shareholders include Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah and about 6,000 individual Bruneian investors.

BIBD Group – which includes subsidiaries BIDB At-Tamwil, BIBD Securities and Takaful Brunei — approved a dividend of 17.40 cents per share, a 5.3 percent fall from 2019.

Shareholders also received a 10.7 percent return on equity in 2020 compared to 12.3 percent in 2019.

BIBD Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Mubashar Khokhar said the bank’s Go Cashless campaign contributed to a rise in digital transactions during Brunei’s COVID-19 outbreak last year.

The bank’s digital penetration rate stood at 68 percent with over 18.4 million online transactions in 2020.

Online inter-bank transfer charges were waived last year as part of the government’s $450 million stimulus package to help businesses cope with the pandemic.