South African lender Absa posts marginal rise in interim profit

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -South African lender Absa Group on Monday posted a marginal rise in interim profit as it benefited from higher interest rates, which was partly offset by higher impairments.

The lender posted a headline earnings per share of 13.21 rand ($0.6945) for the half year ended June 30, against 12.67 rand the corresponding period a year ago.

The top five private South African banks – among the continent’s biggest – are generally known to have well-capitalised balance sheets and strictly conservative lending practices.

But as Africa’s most advanced economy came under strain due to high interest rates and higher inflation, it took a toll on banks’ loan books, already struggling to manage the spillover effects of long hours of daily blackouts.

Absa’s return on equity – a metric which measures how much profit a company is generating for each rand of shareholder investment – slipped to 15.7% from 16.4% a year ago.

($1 = 19.0202 rand)

(Reporting by Promit Mukherjee; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Varun H K)