March 26, 2019 / 1:27 PM / 8 months ago

UPDATE 2-Kenya's Equity Group 2018 pretax profit up on rising interest income

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NAIROBI, March 26 (Reuters) - Equity Group Holdings said on Tuesday pretax profit rose in 2018, thanks to higher interest income and the group’s resilience to a slowdown in private sector credit growth in its main market Kenya.

Its pretax profit rose 6 percent to 28.5 billion shillings ($282.74 million). The bank’s net interest income rose 10 percent to 41.4 billion shillings, Chief Executive Officer James Mwangi told an investor briefing.

“This is the growth resilience we were pursuing to navigate the headwinds of slow growth rate of the private sector credit,” Mwangi said.

Private sector credit growth in Kenya stood at 2.4 percent as of December 2018, the bank said, from 18 percent three years ago.

The bank, which also operates in Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo, said net loans and advances rose to 297.2 billion shillings from 279.1 billion shillings in 2017.

Equity Group’s banking business in Kenya provides the bulk of profits but subsidiaries in other countries in East and Central Africa are providing substantial contributions to its growth.

The non-banking and regional banking subsidiaries increased their total assets to 26 percent of the group’s assets, the bank said.

Equity Group, which has a mobile phone-based financial business, insurance agency and investment bank, said total assets rose 9 percent to 573.4 billion shillings, helped by customer deposits that grew 13 percent to 422.8 billion shillings. ($1 = 100.8000 Kenyan shillings) (Reporting by Omar Mohammed; Editing by George Obulutsa and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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