Standard Chartered seems to have got rather carried away with ecological metaphors in its annual report to shareholders. On its cover is a close-up of a leaf, 'the patterns of veins and channels' of which remind the bank of 'various aspects of Standard Chartered's worldwide network'. Inside is a large picture of a migratory bird, because 'migration of best practice is one of the cornerstones' of the bank's strategy. Very poetic. But, reading the results, you feel a seagull might have been more apposite, as Standard has been 'dumped on' by banking misfortunes - the latest resulting in its having to make provisions of £272 million arising from potential losses at its Bombay branch. A less pejorative choice, perhaps, would be an eagle. Legal eagles have been very active on the company's behalf.
The report reveals that Standard received $62 million for its claim against Coopers and Lybrand in relation to the 1990 bankruptcy of the Mini Scribe Corporation; and Aus $71 million following a settlement with a number of parties connected with GPI Leisure in Australia. And the eagles still fly. Standard was awarded $338 million in damages against Price Waterhouse regarding the 1987 purchase of the United Bank of Arizona by Union Bank, but this was set aside. Now that there's a new trial, Standard will be hoping not to be given the bird.