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31.03.2004 Business & Finance

HFC decries high cases of disputed lands

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Accra, March 31, GNA - HFC Bank Limited, one of Ghana's major housing mortgage company, on Wednesday decried the continued difficulty of accessing undisputed land for housing projects across the country.

Speaking at the Ghana Stock Exchange: "Facts Behind The Figures Series" in Accra, Mrs Stephanie Baeta-Ansah, Managing Director of the Bank, said every institution has a challenge, "but it seems this challenge has persisted for too long and refuses to go away".

She also mentioned access to long-term funds without having to put up huge collateral and high interest rates as other major hitches to developing the housing industry in Ghana.

Mrs Baeta-Ansah said HFC had come a long way in the last 10 years, especially starting at a time when nobody was ready to go into that area of business.

She said she was happy that the Banks' HFC Unit Trust patrons had increased significantly from 2,000 in the last year to 4,000, adding that it was a reflection of increased confidence in the Company.

HFC Bank which, is the 18th bank in the country, plans to open new branches in Kumasi, Tema and small outer-units dubbed 'boutiques' in highly populated but much easy to access areas in the various urban areas in the country.

The share price of the company has also increased 125 per cent, rising from 4,000 cedis to 9,000 cedis since the banking arm of the Company was introduced.

She urged Ghanaians, who lose big money on the big time international markets to spend some of it on the local market.

"It is estimated that about four billion cedis was lost by Ghanaians abroad on the more established markets. I urge them to direct some of these funds onto our market and rest assured that it would go a long to make Ghana grow faster and development would be faster", she said.

Mr Adusei Derkyi, Deputy Managing Director of HFC Bank, said the portfolio of the Bank had been diversified considerably to make their operations efficient and more service oriented.

He admitted a deceleration in the growth of the mortgage portfolio attributing it to a shift in real estate developers towards products of higher margins - high valued houses that were paid for in cash payments by clients.

"Secondly, HFC Management needed to slow down on things and strategise as we moved along."

He said the Bank operates on line and in real time, adding; "we are going to introduce some novelties and venture into areas that others have avoided over the years".

Mr Kinglsey S. Yamoah, Managing Director of the GSE, said HFC had been one of the companies that have utilised the market most.

"In 2003, HFC shares gained 318 per cent, about 600,000 dollar bonds changes hands while 3.5 million shares of HFC worth 7.2 billion was traded," he said.

HFC Bank's net profit of 9.196 billion cedis in 2002 rose significantly to 17.116 billion cedis in 2003 while the Group's net profit also went up to 17.593 billion cedis last year compared to 9.704 posted in 2002.

Profit after tax for the Bank fixed at 17.885 billion cedis compared to 8.550 billion cedis in 2002.

Net interest income was 40.270 billion cedis last year. In 2002 it was 22.121 billion cedis.