(Adds milestone and para on dividend)
SINGAPORE, April 30 (Reuters) – Singapore’s DBS Group Holdings set aside S$1.09 billion ($772.5 million) to cover the impact of the coronavirus pandemic as Southeast Asia’s biggest lender reported a 29% fall in first-quarter profit to the lowest in 2-1/2 years.
DBS said provisions for credit losses surged in January-March from S$76 million a year earlier. They were well above an average estimate of S$605 million, according to Refinitiv data.
First-quarter profit fell to S$1.16 billion compared with S$1.65 billion a year earlier, in line with an average estimate of S$1.13 billion from four analysts, according to Refinitiv data.
DBS said it set aside the allowances “to accelerate the build-up of reserves”, with two-thirds of the amount kept for general allowances to anticipate a “deeper and more prolonged economic impact from the pandemic.” The remainder was for specific allowances, mainly for new exposures recognised as non-performing during the quarter.
DBS, which pays quarterly dividends, retained its proposed dividend of 33 Singapore cents per share for the latest quarter. ($1 = 1.4110 Singapore dollars) (Reporting by Anshuman Daga; Editing by Kim Coghill)