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UPDATE 1-S.Africa's Nedbank says half year profit will fall by over two-thirds

* HEPS to be between 402 cents and 472 cents

* But credit loss ratio to be lower than June

* Scraps dividend, says balance sheet strong (Adds details, shares)

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 20 (Reuters) - South Africa’s Nedbank Group Ltd said on Thursday that its headline earnings per share (HEPS) for the half year that ended June would fall between 67% and 72% from the same period last year.

HEPS - the main profit measure for South African companies - would be between 402 cents and 472 cents, it said.

“The largest impact of the COVID-19 pandemic...has been a significant increase in the impairment or expected credit loss charge,” Nedbank said in its trading statement after market hours, adding that it was scrapping its interim dividend.

The credit loss ratio (CLR) is a banking measure that shows what proportion of loans are at risk.

Nedbank said its full year CLR to December is expected to be lower than June’s of 1.9%, but above the 1.52% seen during the global financial crisis.

Its peer and Africa’s biggest bank Standard Bank Group Ltd , which announced its half year results on Thursday, said its CLR stood at 1.69% for the first half. The bank reported a 43% drop in profits due to an almost tripling of its impairment charges.

South African banks, generally considered to be well capitalised, have been badly hit by the pandemic with their share performance among the worst when compared with other sectors of the economy, and at a time when the Johannesburg Stock Exchange has been one of the best performing globally.

Nedbank, however, assured that its balance sheet remained strong with above-target capital and liquidity ratios. Its shares closed 4.33% lower on Thursday.

Nedbank, which is among the top four lenders in the country, will be announcing its half yearly results on Aug. 26. (Reporting by Promit Mukherjee; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle, Kirsten Donovan)

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