November 22, 2018 / 7:42 AM / 18 days ago

UPDATE 1-Bank of Georgia quarterly profit rises 11.3 pct on strong lending

(Adds details, background on economy)

Nov 22 (Reuters) - Bank of Georgia Group Plc reported an 11.3 percent rise in quarterly earnings, helped by higher lending amid strong economic growth in the former Soviet republic.

Georgia’s economic growth accelerated in the first nine months of 2018, helping the lender and its main rival TBC Bank Group Plc.

“The government’s prudent macroeconomic policies continue to serve the country well, and the economy has remained resilient to the recent depreciation of the Turkish lira and volatility in regional financial markets,” the bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Kaha Kiknavelidze, said.

Bank of Georgia, which was formed when BGEO Group demerged into two entities in May, said pretax profit rose to 113.3 million laris ($43.00 million), for the three months ended Sept. 30, from 101.9 million laris a year earlier.

The Tbilisi-based bank, which offers retail, corporate and investment banking, and wealth management, said its loan book grew to 8.72 billion laris as at end-September, from 6.92 billion laris at the same time last year.

However, its net interest margin - a key measure of financial strength - dropped 50 basis points to 6.4 percent quarter on quarter, hurt by a negative mix effect caused by increased focus on lending in the mortgage segment and to finer-margin corporate and SME (small- and medium-sized enterprises) clients.

TBC Bank, Georgia’s largest retail lender, last week reported a 23.7 percent jump in quarterly profit, on the back of a strong loan book, and said the growth of the Georgian economy remains solid.

$1 = 2.6350 laris Reporting by Muvija M and Adil Bhat in Bengaluru; Editing by Sunil Nair

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