Kenya's Equity Bank nine-month profit rises 30 pct

NAIROBI Tue Nov 6, 2012 2:09am EST

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NAIROBI Nov 6 (Reuters) - Kenya's Equity Bank's profit for the first nine months of the year rose nearly 30 percent largely due to an increase in the bank's gross interest income, it said on Tuesday.

Equity, which focuses on the lower-income part of the market, and operates in Uganda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Rwanda, said gross interest income rose to 22.67 billion Kenyan shillings ($264.91 million) for the nine months to the end of September, up from 13.56 billion. Pretax profit was 11.79 billion shillings.

Chief Executive James Mwangi said the money Equity made from loans and government securities drove profits.

"The key driver for the profits is the composition of gross interest income," Mwangi told investors in Nairobi.

Equity reported total assets increased 18.9 percent to 232.2 billion shillings, up from 195.4 billion during the same period. Earnings per share rose from 2.63 shillings to 2.99 shillings.

Mwangi said agency banking, which is mainly third party banking transactions away from bank branches, was a huge growth market.

"Agents (transcations) will overtake bank branches by Dec and overtake ATMs by June 2013," Mwangi said. ($1=85.5750 Kenyan shillings) (Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Mike Nesbit)