Nigeria’s Guaranty Trust Bank Profit Gains as Loan Losses Drop

Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Nigeria’s largest lender by market value, said first-half profit climbed 9.1 percent after loan losses declined by almost half.

Net income rose to 49 billion naira ($304 million) from 44.9 billion naira a year earlier, the Lagos-based lender said in a statement published on the website of the Nigerian Stock Exchange today. Bad-loan provisions fell to 1.3 billion naira, while lending increased 15 percent to 899 billion naira.

Guaranty Trust plans to almost double loan growth to 20 percent this year and boost investments in oil and manufacturing companies, Chief Executive Officer Segun Agbaje said in April. The lender, which operates in six other countries on the continent, agreed last month to pay about $100 million for 70 percent of Kenya’s Fina Bank Ltd. to tap growth in East Africa.

“Profit after tax came in much better than expected,” FBN Capital analysts led by Olubunmi Asaolu in Lagos, wrote in an e-mailed note. FBN Capital, which has a neutral recommendation on Guaranty Trust shares, cited the bank’s lower-than-expected tax rate of 8.4 percent.

Guaranty Trust shares advanced 1.1 percent to 25.3 naira at 2:45 p.m. in Lagos, bringing this year’s gain to 10 percent. That compares with the 17 percent increase in the 10-member Nigerian SE Banking Index.

Guaranty Trust’s British unit was fined 525,000 pounds ($815,000) on Aug. 9 by the U.K. markets regulator for failing to have controls in place to prevent money laundering. The bank failed to document risk posed by higher-risk customers when it set up a London office in 2008, the Financial Conduct Authority said.

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