Equity Bank of Kenya First-Quarter Profit Grows on Loans

April 26 (Bloomberg) -- Equity Bank Ltd., Kenya’s biggest lender by customers, said first-quarter profit increased by 13 percent to 2.64 billion shillings ($31.7 million) as loans surged.

Net interest income, the money banks earn from interest charges on loans, jumped 58 percent to 5.69 billion shillings in the three months through March, Managing Director James Mwangi told reporters today in Nairobi, the capital.

“The growth in the loan book and adjustment in interest rates helped to increase net interest income,” Faith Atiti, an analyst at Nairobi-based Sterling Investment Bank Ltd., said in an interview.

Equity raised its effective lending rate to 25 percent in November from 19 percent previously after the central bank increased Kenya’s benchmark rate to rein in surging inflation.

The bank had 7.5 million customers at the end of the first quarter, compared with 6.2 million a year earlier, he said.

“We are hoping in the not too distant future Equity will be banking 20 million customers,” Mwangi said.

Outlets in the quarter rose to 186 from 163 a year earlier, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Ombok in Nairobi at eombok@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net