Zenith Bank to Boost Credit as Loan Ratio Falls Below Threshold

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Lender targets retail credit to meet loan-to-deposit ratio
Nigeria’s second-most valuable bank posted 9% profit increase

Zenith Bank Plc, Nigeria’s second-biggest lender by market value, plans to accelerate lending in the second half after its loan-to-deposit ratio fell short of the regulator’s minimum target.

The bank’s loan book dropped 3% to 1.95 trillion naira ($5.4 billion) for the six months through June, while customer deposits increased by the same percentage to 3.8 trillion naira. That pushed its loan-to-deposit ratio to 51.2% from 54.6% a year ago.

Nigeria’s central bank last month asked lenders to use at least 60% of their deposits for loans by the end of September or face a penalty as it aims to fuel credit to grow the economy.

“We are creatively deploying new retail loan products to ensure we capture a reasonable share of the retail loan market,” the lender said in an emailed statement. An increase in lending will also enable the lender to improve its non-performing loan ratio, which deteriorated to 5.3% from 5%, owing to the drop in credit in the first half, it said.

The Lagos-based bank said Monday its net income rose 9% to 88.8 billion naira while net interest income declined by 7% to 142.5 billion naira.

The bank’s shares rose 2.1% to 16.95 naira as of 2:18 p.m. in Lagos, its highest in almost two weeks. That trimmed losses this year to 26% compared with the 23% retreat in an index of the country’s 10 biggest lenders.

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