Johannesburg - Absa Group [JSE:ASA], the South African bank
majority owned by Barclays, posted an expected 21% rise in full-year profit on
Friday, boosted by strong income from fees and a decline in bad debts.
South Africa's biggest retail bank also declared a
larger-than-expected dividend of 684 cents per share, well above the 600.5c
estimated by 14 analysts surveyed by Reuters.
Banks in Africa’s largest economy are pushing to increase
income from fees and commissions as they fight high costs and sluggish demand
Absa said diluted earnings per share rose to 1 350c in the
year to end-December, from 1 115.7c in 2010.
The bank said earlier this month it would likely report an
increase of 18% to 22% in profit.
Net interest income - earnings from lending - rose to
R24.43bn from R23.34bn.
South Africa’s biggest retail lender said bad debt charges,
improved to R5.08bn from R6bn a year earlier.
Non-interest revenue, or earnings from fees and commissions,
grew to R21.4bn from R19.47bn.
Absa said last week its 51-year-old deputy CEO Louis von
Zeuner would step down from his position at the end of the year, to take a
reduced role focused on increasing Barclays’ customer base across the
Absa has said several other executives are leaving the bank,
including chief operating officer Alfie Naidoo, moves that some analysts say
may be at the behest of Absa’s parent.
Barclays acquired a 56.4% in the South Africa lender in
Shares of Absa are up 6.7% so far this year. That compares
with a 7.5% rise in Johannesburg's benchmark Top 40 - (Tradeable) [JSE:J200]