UPDATE 1-New bank Aldermore eyes acquisitions as profit surges
* Operating profit increases to 9.2 mln stg
* Gross lending up 34 percent to 2.7 bln stg
* Bank targeting acquisitions to accelerate expansion
By Matt Scuffham
LONDON, July 31 (Reuters) - New British bank Aldermore reported a surge in profit in the first half and said it was seeking acquisitions to speed up its expansion, setting a target to grow its balance sheet to 5 billion pounds ($7.6 billion) by the end of 2014.
Aldermore, founded in 2009, has established itself as one of the more credible newcomers trying to challenge Britain's established banks and potentially increase competition.
The bank, which made a profit for the first time last year, lends to small businesses and households and does not have branches. It was set up by former Barclays executive Phillip Monks, with backing from private equity firms AnaCap and Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners.
Monks told Reuters the bank wants to take advantage of bigger banks scaling back to meet tougher regulatory demands.
"We have an appetite to grow by acquisition and organically. We have very supportive shareholders. There are two or three things I'm casting my eye over," Monks said in an interview.
Barclays said on Tuesday it planned to shrink its loan book by a further 65-80 billion pounds and Monks said he may look at opportunities arising from that. He said Aldermore aimed to expand its balance sheet to 4 billion pounds by the end of this year and 5 billion pounds by the end of 2014.
Aldermore said on Wednesday it made an operating profit of 9.2 million pounds in the six months to the end of June, compared with 1 million pounds last year. The bank reported a 34 percent increase in gross lending to 2.7 billion pounds.
Aldermore said Chairman David Arculus is stepping down. Monks said a replacement is likely to be appointed in the next quarter.
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