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RABAT, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Attijariwafa Bank, Morocco's biggest private bank, said on Friday first-half net profit fell 4.8 percent to 2.2 billion dirhams ($256 million) reflecting an economic slowdown and rising bad debts.
The bank is exposed to weak economies in sub-Saharan Africa where it is developing aggressively. And a slow-down in the non-agricultural sector in its home market contributed to an increase in bad loans to 7.1 billion dirhams in the first half of 2013, up from 6.4 billion at the end of 2012.
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 4.7 pct to 9.1 billion dirham, thanks to consolidated deposits and loans which increased by 7.9 pct (238.7 billion) and 1.6 pct respectively.
It sees its return on equity (ROE), a widely-followed gauge of profitably for banks, at 16.1 percent, down from 18 percent at the end of 2012.
Attijari said it has the largest branch network in Morocco and Africa with 3,037 branches, up from 2,882 in 2012.
The board will propose a 9 dirham dividend per share or 1.81 billion dirhams for the first half of 2013, up from 8.5 dirhams in 2012. Its shares were steady at 314.75 dirhams on Friday after the results.
Reporting By Aziz El Yaakoubi. Editing by Jane Merriman