April 28, 2017 / 9:52 AM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 1-Top China bank ICBC's Q1 profit up 1.4 pct, bad loan ratio down

* Bad loan ratio 1.59 pct at end-March vs 1.62 pct end-Dec

* NIM 2.12 pct at end-March vs. 2.16 pct at end-Dec

* Provision ratio rose to 141.51 pct at end-march (Adds more financial details, bullets)

BEIJING, April 28 (Reuters) - Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC) posted a small rise in quarterly net profit that slightly missed estimates, but the world’s top lender by assets appears to be turning the corner on bad debts.

ICBC said on Friday net profit grew 1.37 percent in the three months through March to 75.8 billion yuan ($10.99 billion). Analysts had expected a profit of 76.5 billion yuan, according to three brokerage estimates compiled by Reuters.

But ICBC’s non-performing loan (NPL) ratio was 1.59 percent at end-March, down from 1.62 percent at end-December, signalling it was speeding up resolving its bad debts.

The bank also slightly boosted its loan-loss allowance ratio - a measure of cash set aside as a percentage of reported NPLs - to 141.51 percent at end-March from 136.69 percent at end-2016, a slight improvement but still below a regulatory threshold of 150 percent.

Net interest margin (NIM), the difference between interest paid and earned and a key gauge of bank profitability, though fell to 2.12 percent at end-March from 2.16 percent at end-December, after Beijing’s six successive benchmark interest rate cuts in 2014-15.

The quarterly results were unaudited. ($1 = 6.8972 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Shu Zhang and Matthew Miller; Editing by Stephen Coates and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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