UPDATE 1-Ecobank says 2012 profit rose to highest ever of $348 mln
* Ecobank hits record profits of $348 mln
* Acquisitions in Nigeria and Ghana start to pay off
* Shares up 22 pct ytd on Nigeria bourse (Adds details, background)
LAGOS, March 27 (Reuters) - Pan-African lender Ecobank Transnational (ETI) said on Wednesday its full-year pretax profit rose 25 percent in 2012 to its highest ever of $348 million, compared with $277 million the previous year.
ETI, which has operations in 32 African countries, said in the results announcement that gross earnings jumped 46 percent to $1.8 billion during the period, adding it will pay a dividend of $0.4 per share on June 20.
Ecobank shares rose 1.5 percent to 14 naira on the Nigerian bourse at 1151 GMT to hit a market value of 185 billion naira ($1.2 bln), stock exchange data showed. The lender also has listings in Ghana and the West African stock exchange.
It has gained 22 percent in the year to date in Nigeria.
ETI said that it had started to reap synergies from acquisitions in Nigeria and Ghana, exceeding its $300 million target for pretax profit for last year.
It closed a buy-out for failed Nigerian lender Oceanic bank and Ghana's Trust Bank in 2012.
The Togo-headquartered bank said it grew its loan book to $10 billion last year against $15 billion in customer deposits and total assets at $20 billion. It had a shareholders' fund of $2 billion in 2012, the bank said.
Shortly after he took up his post in October, Ecobank Chief Executive Thierry Tanoh said he the bank was seeking to enter into Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Mozambique. ($1 = 158.35 naira) (Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Tim Cocks)