FirstRand earnings up 20%

The lender said R10 billion of surplus capital could be used for further expansion into Africa.

FirstRand Bank Logo. Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - FirstRand posted a 20 percent jump in full-year earnings on Tuesday, propelled by strong growth in loan income and earnings from fees and commissions.

FirstRand, Africa's second-largest lender by value, said diluted normalised earnings per share, which exclude certain one-time items, came in at 271.8 cents in the year to end-June, from 225.8 cents a year earlier.

Net interest income, the measure of earnings from lending, climbed 13 percent to R24.7 billion.

FirstRand said impairments fell by 5 percent to R4.8 billion.

After several years of aggressive lending to low-income borrowers, South African banks are now taking a more measured approach to unsecured loans - high interest loans that are not backed by collateral.

The central bank has said levels of unsecured credit - at slightly above a tenth of total banking assets in the economy - are unlikely to cause much harm to the wider South African financial system.

Like its competitors, FirstRand has been keen to increase its influence in Africa but has so far failed to land acquisitions in the key West African nations of Nigeria and Ghana.

The bank has R10 billion of surplus capital that could be used for further expansion into Africa, its chief financial officer said on Tuesday.

Johan Burger made the comment at a briefing following the release of the results.

FirstRand's shares have gained 1 percent so far this year, while the banking index is down 3 percent.