Bank of China Profit Increases 8.2% as Lending Margin Widens

Bank of China Ltd., the nation’s fourth-largest lender by assets, posted 8.2% growth in first- quarter profit as its lending margin widened and asset quality improved.

Net income climbed to 39.8 billion yuan ($6.5 billion) from 36.8 billion yuan a year earlier, the Beijing-based lender said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange today. That compared with the 39.2 billion-yuan median estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News.

China’s five biggest commercial lenders delivered profit growth and return on equity of more than 10 percent in 2012, even as the economy grew at the slowest pace in 13 years. Lenders may struggle to maintain the pace as interest-rate deregulation and borrowers’ migration to the bond market put pressure on lending margins.

Bank of Communications Co., the nation’s fifth-largest, today reported profit of 17.7 billion yuan, compared with a consensus estimate of 16.8 billion yuan.

Shares of the nine Hong Kong-listed Chinese banks gained an average 0.8 percent in the first quarter, beating the 1.6 percent decline in the city’s benchmark Hang Seng Index.

Bank of China rose 0.6 percent in Hong Kong today to close at HK$3.53 before the earnings announcement, bringing this year’s gain to 2 percent. BoCom advanced 2 percent to close at HK$6.03.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Jun Luo in Shanghai at +86-21-6104-3036 or jluo6@bloomberg.net

To contact the reporter on this story: Jun Luo in Shanghai at jluo6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chitra Somayaji at csomayaji@bloomberg.net

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