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Standard Chartered Fined $330 Million in Iran Probe

Standard Chartered expects to pay $330 million to settle a case with U.S. regulators for breaking sanctions on Iran, the Asian-focused bank said on Thursday, a second such penalty which could almost wipe out its profit growth this year.

A rise in the number of unemployed bankers meant Standard Chartered could keep a lid on costs, with revenue growing faster than costs - a phenomenon known in financial industry jargon as "positive jaws". However, cost growth in its wholesale bank, effectively its investment banking arm, would be higher than income growth due to the DFS fine, it said.

For much of 2010, StanChart was hit by ever-rising costs as an increasing number of banks and brokerages tried to expand in Asia. Since then, various minor players including Samsung Securities and KBW have begun pulling out.

The bank does not release specific numbers in its trading updates, which it keeps for annual results typically in late February. It singled out Malaysia, China and Indonesia as regions where income grew by at least 10 percent.

In Hong Kong, its biggest market, income grew at a high single-digit percentage, the bank said.

StanChart's Hong Kong-listed shares are up 9 percent year-to-date, lagging the 20 percent rise on the Hang Seng Index .

Asset quality remained good, the bank said, with loan impairments within the wholesale bank expected to be below the levels seen in the first half of this year. For the consumer bank, loan impairment is expected to increase by at least 10 percent from the first half.

However, StanChart pointed to India and the Middle East as two markets where it was watchful for asset quality. Slowing growth in some emerging markets has raised concern that StanChart could be hit by a rise in bad loans.

Copyright 2010 by Reuters. All rights reserved.

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