* Net profit up 3.6 pct in 2013, slightly below target
* NPLs decrease, impairement charge rises (Adds details, background)
ALMATY, March 25 (Reuters) - Halyk Bank , Kazakhstan’s second-largest lender by assets, said on Tuesday its net profit rose by 3.5 percent to 72.4 billion tenge ($398 million) in 2013, slightly below its own forecast of 74 billion tenge.
Halyk, the most profitable of Kazakhstan’s 38 banks, said its assets grew by 4.1 percent last year, while net loans issued to customers rose by 12.4 percent.
Non-performing loans (NPLs) remain a headache for the oil-rich nation’s banking sector, which was hit hard by the global crisis due to its overexposure to external borrowing and the bloated real estate market.
Hakyk said its 30-day and 90-day NPLs as of Dec. 31, 2013 decreased to 18.2 percent and 18.0 percent respectively from 19.7 percent and 18.1 percent on Sept. 30.
Net interest income before impairment charges increased by 17.1 percent to 106.6 billion tenge. Impairment charges rose by 69.4 percent in 2013, mainly due to a growing loan portfolio and ageing NPLs, the bank said.
Last month Halyk bought the Kazakh subsidiary of HSBC for $176 million in cash.
Halyk said on Tuesday it expected the transaction to be completed during this year. It said it would run SB HSBC Bank Kazakhstan JSC as a separate legal entity in the near term.
Halyk’s largest single shareholder is Almex, a holding company owned by President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s middle daughter, Dinara, and her entrepreneur husband Timur Kulibayev.
$1 = 182.02 tenge (Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Sophie Walker)