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* Total operating income up 1 pct, no figure given
* Core loans and advances down 9 pct at 16.8 bln stg
* Impairment losses shrink 26 percent
* To sell Kensington mortgage business
* Shares up 2.6 percent
JOHANNESBURG, Feb 6 (Reuters) - South African lender and asset manager Investec on Thursday said earnings were flat in the first nine months of the year, reflecting a downturn in the rand currency and a decline in the loans it made.
Investec, which is looking to sell some of its Australia businesses, said it would also consider the sale of its British mortgage business Kensington.
Investec bought Kensington in 2007 in a 283 million pound ($461.4 million) deal just before the global economic crisis. Kensington had specialised in lending to home buyers with a poor credit history, but changed its focus to safer "prime" lending.
Investec's group operating income for the nine months to end-December was 1 percent higher, the company said, without giving any further details.
The group, which is also listed in London and reports its results in pounds, said it was hit by the sharp slide in the rand, while core loans fell 9 percent to 16.8 billion pounds. Impairment losses however shrank 26 percent.
Third-party assets under management fell 2 percent to 108 billion pounds.
Investec shares were up 2.6 percent in Johannesburg at 1018 GMT, outperforming a 0.2 percent rise in the Top-40 index .