November 16, 2017 / 9:01 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-South Africa's Investec profit climbs, helped by wealth unit

(Adds details about businesses, background)

Nov 15 (Reuters) - Investec Plc said on Thursday operating profit rose 11.8 percent in the six months to Sept. 30, supported by its wealth unit even after the Anglo-South African financial services group flagged political uncertainty in its main market.

The South Africa-focused bank, which has a London listing, said its asset management and wealth arm benefited from higher funds under management helped by favourable equity markets and combined net inflows of 3.6 billion pounds ($4.74 billion).

The firm’s shares edged up 0.3 percent to 95.52 rand, compared to a 0.6 percent gain for Johannesburg’s benchmark index.

The wealth and investment business, which contributed about 13.7 percent to their full-year 2017 profits, improved 14.7 percent to record a profit of 49.5 million pounds in the first half. Investec, which focuses mainly on private banking and asset management, reported operating profit of 314.6 million pounds in the six-month period, up from 281.4 million a year ago.

The firm warned in September that business confidence was low and the political environment challenging in South Africa, even though its economy was coming out of recession.

Investec said it aimed at common equity tier 1 capital ratio above 10 percent and a total capital adequacy ratio range of 14 to 17 percent in its capital ratios - the percentage of a bank’s capital to risk-weighted assets.

Net interest income rose 16 percent to 364.4 million pounds driven by a reduction in the Britain’s cost of lending, the company said in a statement.

$1 = 0.7598 pounds Reporting by Hanna Paul in Bengaluru; Editing by Jason Neely and Edmund Blair

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