January 18, 2019 / 3:10 AM / 6 months ago

Thailand's Kbank 2018 profit jumps on interest income, loan growth

BANGKOK, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Thailand’s third-largest lender Kasikornbank Pcl on Friday reported a 12 percent jump in full-year profit on higher interest income, loan growth and better asset quality.

Kbank’s 2018 net profit of 38.4 billion baht ($1.21 billion)was slightly above an estimate of 38.3 billion baht based on a Refinitiv poll of 24 analysts.

Loans grew 6.1 percent and allowances for doubtful accounts in 2018 were 15.4 percent lower than the previous year.

Net interest income grew 4.6 percent to 98.5 billion baht.

Thai bank earnings have been under pressure by a money transfer fee waiver, with Kbank’s non-interest income slipping 9.1 percent. Rival Siam Commercial Bank saw annual profits drop 7 percent on weak fee income.

Kbank’s cost-to-income ratio rose slightly to nearly 44 percent as it competes with rivals to invest new technology roll out digital services.

Last year, Kbank, which has 15 million digital users, announced a $50 million investment the ride-sharing app, Grab, to offer electronic payments. The lender also established a joint venture with Japanese chat-operator, Line Corp, to expand digital services. ($1 = 31.6900 Thai baht) (Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

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