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FirstRand Profit Gains 20% After Winning S. African Clients

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Sept. 10 (Bloomberg) -- FirstRand Ltd., South Africa’s second-biggest financial-services company, said fiscal full-year profit climbed 20 percent as it lured more customers.

Normalized income, which takes into account asset sales a year earlier, rose to 15.3 billion rand ($1.54 billion) in the 12 months through June, from 12.7 billion rand a year earlier, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement today. Earnings per share excluding one-time items increased 20 percent to 2.72 rand, in line with the median estimate of five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

While FirstRand has failed in its goal to buy assets in Ghana, Nigeria and Zambia, its consumer unit has attracted more customers in South Africa and expanded in India. Rand Merchant Bank, the company’s investment banking unit, started operations in Nigeria in December.

The consumer banking unit increased profit through “customer acquisition, loan and deposit growth,” FirstRand said in the statement. The vehicle-finance unit “continued to grow new business volumes across all portfolios, and Rand Merchant Bank’s diversified investment banking and corporate portfolios delivered strong growth.”

FirstRand closed up 3.2 percent to 32.30 rand in Johannesburg and has gained 4.2 percent this year, outperforming Standard Bank Group Ltd. and Barclays Africa Group Ltd., which have declined 4.7 percent and 14.7 percent respectively.

FirstRand boosted its dividend 33 percent to 1.36 rand a share.

To contact the reporter on this story: Renee Bonorchis in Johannesburg at rbonorchis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net

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