Nedbank First-Half Profit Growth Slows as Ecobank Makes Losses

Nedbank Group Ltd., the South African lender controlled by Old Mutual Plc, said first-half profit growth slowed to 2.1 percent after accounting for losses associated with its stake in Ecobank Transnational Inc.

Net income rose to 5.44 billion rand ($392 million) from 5.33 billion rand a year earlier, the Johannesburg-based lender said in a statement on Monday. That compares with a 16 percent expansion in the same period a year ago. Earnings per share excluding one-time items climbed 1.6 percent to 11.19 rand and the interim dividend increased 6.1 percent to 5.70 rand a share.

Nedbank and its peers are battling a South African economy on the brink of a recession, interest rates at their highest level since 2010 and inflation outside the central bank’s target range. Profit at its biggest investment outside of South Africa, Ecobank, declined after lower oil prices and rising impairments hurt lenders in Nigeria. Nedbank’s parent company plans to spin off the lender by 2018 as part of a plan to split Old Mutual’s business into four separate units.

While Nedbank expects full-year earnings excluding one-time items to grow, this will be “lower than the growth we achieved in 2015 and below our medium-to-long-term target,” Chief Executive Officer Mike Brown said in the statement.

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