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FirstRand Bank First-Half Earnings to Increase as Much as 26%

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Feb. 25 (Bloomberg) -- FirstRand Ltd., South Africa’s second-biggest financial services company, said first-half earnings will be as much as 26 percent higher as the company added retail banking customers.

Earnings per share for the six months through December were 24 to 26 percent above the 128.5 cents reported for the same period in 2012, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement today. Excluding one-time items the figure was 20-22 percent higher.

FirstRand shares increased 0.9 percent to 34.37 rand as of 10:04 a.am. in Johannesburg, the highest on an intraday basis in almost two months. The stock has declined 4.3 percent this year, compared with a 2.8 percent fall on the FTSE/JSE Banks Index.

FirstRand is expanding in markets including Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with 170 million people, in order to boost growth outside its core South African market. The company appointed Jacques Celliers as chief executive officer of its consumer-banking unit from the end of last year.

To contact the reporter on this story: John Bowker in Johannesburg at jbowker2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Risser at drisser@bloomberg.net

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