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Zenith Bank of Nigeria First-Quarter Profit Rises 26% on Loans

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April 23 (Bloomberg) -- Zenith Bank Plc, Nigeria’s third-largest lender by market value, reported a 26 percent gain in first-quarter profit on increased lending.

Net income climbed to 23.3 billion naira ($146.7 million) from 18.5 billion naira a year earlier, the Lagos-based firm said today in an e-mailed statement. Revenue rose 20 percent to 87 billion naira, while loans and advances increased 21 percent to 1.1 trillion naira.

Zenith expects costs to rise this year due to an increase in a funding levy by the state-owned Asset Management Corp. of Nigeria, which was set up up in 2010 to buy lenders’ bad debts, Chief Executive Officer Godwin Emefiele said April 8. Zenith’s first-quarter operating expenses gained 14 percent to 33.9 billion naira.

The bank, which listed $850 million of global depository receipts on the London Stock Exchange on March 21, expects loan growth of 15 percent to 20 percent this year with opportunities to lend to the manufacturing, power, agriculture, telecommunications and oil industries, according to Emefiele.

Zenith’s shares have climbed 1.1 percent this year to 19.7 naira, compared with the 14 percent rise of the Nigerian SE Banking Index, which tracks the 10 largest lenders of Africa’s biggest oil producer.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Kay in Abuja at ckay5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Vernon Wessels at vwessels@bloomberg.net

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