August 7, 2018 / 2:43 PM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-Nigeria's Zenith Bank sees return to loan growth this year

(Adds details, quote)

By Chijioke Ohuocha

LAGOS, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Nigeria’s Zenith Bank expects to grow its loan book by 2.5 percent this year as a recovering economy and a drive to win business with manufacturers helps to offset a decline in credit in the first half, it said on Tuesday.

Loans fell 6.3 percent in the six months to the end of June following a 4.6 percent decline last year, Zenith said on a call with analysts.

The bank said weak economic growth affected lending last year. However, as the economy improves it expects loans to grow, especially as the central bank introduces liquidity to the banking sector targeting credit to manufacturers.

“For the manufacturing sector, we still see some opportunity there. We believe that there would be an incentive for the manufacturers ... and the engagement has started,” it said.

Zenith added its retail banking business was also growing.

It posted half-year pretax profit of 107.36 billion naira ($352 million), up from 92.18 billion naira in the same period last year.

Its shares dropped 0.84 percent to 23.75 naira, tracking a fall in the wider stock market, which was down 0.4 percent.

$1 = 305.0000 naira Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by David Evans and Mark Potter

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