Zenith Bank said on Wednesday it expects profit before tax to rise four per cent to N253 billion this year, despite the impact of the coronavirus of the economy, as strong liquidity buffers helped the top lender lift growth.
The bank achieved a profit of N114.1 billion in the first six months of the year, it said, up 2.2per cent from a year before. Its liquidity ratio stood at 50.8per cent during the period.
Nigeria’s growth contracted in the second quarter with fears that the West African country’s economy could be heading into a recession in the next quarter.
“We have seen a lot of volatility within this period,” Zenith Bank’s chief executive Ebenezer Onyeagwu said during an analyst call after the results were released.
Zenith Bank said it was targeting the growth sectors of agriculture, healthcare, infrastructure and small businesses, expects loan growth to fall to 10 per cent by the end of the year, from 22.1 achieved a year earlier. It said its loan growth was 13.7per cent for the first six months, supported by a naira devaluation.
Most of Zenith’s rival banks have reported a drop in profit, citing disruptions associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
Zenith Bank said its interest income grew 10.5per cent against a marginal rise in its cost-to-income ratio, while its assets were largely funded by deposits and its core capital of 94per cent of total capital provided scope for further growth.