RABAT, March 24 (Reuters) - Attijariwafa Bank, Morocco's biggest private bank, said on Monday 2013 net profit attributable to shareholders fell 8 percent to 4.1 billion Moroccan dirhams ($503.50 million) reflecting more bad debts and non-current charges, the bank said in a statement.
The bank is exposed to weak economies in sub-Saharan Africa where it is developing aggressively and to rising bad loans in its domestic market.
The bank said the net profit was hit by a tax agreement paid to the government for its subsidiary Wafa Assurance, without impacting its balance sheet, and costs of a capital increase reserved for its employers.
Bad loans rose to 9.08 billion dirhams in 2013, up from 6 billion at the end of 2012, the bank said, adding that 71 pct of the loans were covered by provision.
Attijari has subsidiaries in Tunisia, Ivory Cost, Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo Brazzaville and Togo, and branches in Europe gathering deposits from Moroccans living there.
The bank, which is controlled by the Moroccan royal family holding SNI, said net banking income rose 4.9 pct to 17.9 billion dirhams, thanks to consolidated deposits and loans which increased by 4.7 pct (237.7 billion) and 1.3 pct respectively.
It sees its return on equity (ROE), a widely followed gauge of profitability for banks, at 15.4 percent, down from 18 percent at the end of 2012.
Attijari said it has the largest branch network in Morocco and Africa with 3,197 branches, up from 2,882 in 2012.
The bank's shares were down 1.57 pct at 310 dirhams on Monday after the results. ($1 = 8.1429 Moroccan Dirhams) (Reporting By Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Stephen Powell)