Metro Bank swings to $314 million loss on pandemic bad loan charges

Credit: REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

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LONDON, Aug 5(Reuters) - Britain's Metro Bank MTRO.L swung to a 240 million pounds ($313.92 million) loss for the first half of the year on Wednesday, as provisions to cover loan losses due to the coronavirus crisis wiped out its profits.

The upstart bank, founded in 2015 to take on incumbent high street lenders, said it took a 109 million pound hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, mostly from rising expected loan losses as well as lower transaction fees.

The loss compared to a 3.4 million pound profit in the same January-June period a year ago.

Metro Bank, whose shares have collapsed since it disclosed an accounting scandal in January last year, said its transformation plan remained on track and it grew deposits by 14% in the last year.

"While the pandemic has weighed heavily on our financial performance, we've made early progress delivering against the strategic priorities set out in February," Chief Executive Daniel Frumkin said.

The lender on Monday said it has agreed to buy peer-to-peer platform RateSetter for an initial payment of 2.5 million pounds as it tries to improve its revenue sources.

The bank's core capital ratio, a key measure of financial strength, fell to 14.5% from 15.6% at the end of December.

Metro Bank said it was too early to assess if the coronavirus pandemic will impact its 2024 financial targets.

($1 = 0.7645 pounds)

(Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru and Lawrence White in London, editing by Sinead Cruise)

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