Int'l Personal Finance moves into Bulgaria, Lithuania

LONDON Wed Mar 6, 2013 8:07am GMT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Emerging markets lender International Personal Finance (IPF.L) said it would expand into Bulgaria and Lithuania in 2013 and reported a 2012 profit at the top end of market expectations.

The company, which lends to 2.4 million borrowers across eastern Europe and Mexico, on Wednesday said its underlying pretax profit rose to 95.1 million pounds, up 20 percent on the previous year.

Analysts' forecasts had ranged between 88.5 million pounds and 95.3 million pounds, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S data, with the consensus standing at 92.9 million.

IPF said last year that it planned to expand into new markets and offer more products to customers.

The company said it would invest between 4 million pounds and 5 million pounds in its expansion into Bulgaria and Lithuania in 2013.

"Both countries provide the opportunity to expand into new markets adjacent to our existing European operations," it said.

IPF has also begun to offer more long-term loans, launching a 90-week loan in Poland and a 100-week loan in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. It is also offering reduced interest rates to its most frequent customers.

The company is paying a final dividend of 4.5 pence per share, making a total payout for the year of 7.7 pence, an increase of 9 percent on the year before.

Shares in International Personal Finance, which have risen by almost 60 percent over the past year, closed on Tuesday at 406.4 pence, valuing the business at just over 1 billion pounds.

(Reporting by Matt Scuffham; editing by Rhys Jones)

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