UPDATE 1-Georgia's TBC Bank posts 23.7 pct rise in quarterly earnings

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Nov 15 (Reuters) - TBC Bank Group Plc, Georgia’s largest retail bank, reported a 23.7 percent jump in quarterly profit on Thursday, as it grew its loan book on the back of strong economic growth in the country.

TBC, which offers retail, corporate and small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) banking, said net profit rose to 107.4 million laris ($40.5 million), in the three months ended Sept. 30, from 86.8 million laris a year earlier.

Net interest margin, the key indicator of a bank’s financial strength, rose to 6.9 percent from 6.2 percent last year, the Tbilisi-based company said.

Georgia’s economic growth accelerated in the first nine months of 2018, helping TBC and main competitor Bank of Georgia . The two lenders account for more than two-thirds of loans and deposits in Georgia, according to Peel Hunt analysts, and their results mirror macroeconomic trends in the country.

“The growth of the Georgian economy remains solid despite increased uncertainties in the region, contractionary fiscal policy and one-offs related to some large infrastructure projects,” TBC Chief Executive Officer Vakhtang Butskhrikidze said in a statement on Thursday.

TBC Bank, started as Tbilisi Business Centre in 1992, said its market share in total loans rose 0.2 percentage points year-on-year to 38.4 percent. Its gross loans and advances to customers stood at 9.62 billion laris as of Sept. 30, 23.9 percent higher than last year.

The former Soviet republic hosts pipelines carrying Caspian oil and gas to Europe. Georgia is recovering from a decline in exports and a plunge in the currencies of its main trading partners, which have depressed economic growth in recent years.

Bank of Georgia is scheduled to issue a quarterly update next week.

$1 = 2.6550 laris Reporting by Muvija M and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty