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Ecobank Says Profit Almost Doubles After Nigeria, Ghana Growth

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July 29 (Bloomberg) -- Ecobank Transnational Inc., the lender that operates in more African countries than any other, said first-half profit almost doubled after growth in its biggest markets.

Profit after tax rose to $169.2 million from $86.9 million a year earlier, the Lome, Togo-based company said in a statement posted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange website yesterday. Net revenue climbed 24 percent to $946.9 million, while loan-loss expenses increased 65 percent to $72 million.

Ecobank, founded in 1985, has expanded to 34 African countries and France, with representative offices in Beijing, Dubai, Johannesburg and London. The bank said Nigeria and Ghana grew “strongly” and contributed more than half of the lender’s pretax profit. The economy of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with more than 160 million people, is expected to grow by 7.2 percent this year, while Ghana will expand at a rate of 6.9 percent, according to the International Monetary Fund.

“We look forward to further progress in the second half of the year, which is traditionally a seasonally stronger period,” Laurence do Rego, Ecobank’s executive director for finance and risk, said in the statement.

Ecobank gained 0.2 percent to 14.03 naira as of 11:38 a.m. in trading in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital. The stock has increased 24 percent this year, compared with an 18 percent gain in the 10-member Nigerian Stock Exchange Banking 10 Index.

“This positive performance was driven partly by higher-than-expected non-interest revenue growth and slightly better-than-expected cost management,” Muyiwa Oni and Rele Adesina, analysts at Lagos-based SBG Securities Ltd. with a hold recommendation on Ecobank, wrote in an e-mailed note today. “However, we saw a deterioration in loan-loss expenses.”

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Vernon Wessels at vwessels@bloomberg.net; Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net

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