Johannesburg - Investec [JSE:INL]
, South Africa's fifth-largest bank, posted stronger first-half profit on Thursday, helped by growth in asset management and showing that its move away from plain lending continued to pay off.
The asset manager and investment bank, which is also listed in London, said operating profit totalled £228.15m in the six months to end-September, up 5.6%, compared with £215.9m a year earlier.
The bank said in September it expected a "marginally higher" operating profit, citing sluggish demand for credit and a slow recovery in bad debts.
The bank said the regulatory environment remained challenging, but activity levels were starting to improve.
Investec, which operates in South Africa, the United Kingdom and Australia, has attempted to counter the grim outlook for lending and investment banking by building up its asset management business.
It took over British wealth manager Rensburg Sheppards earlier this year, and its chief executive told Reuters in September he could consider buying a similar business in Australia.
Investec said net interest income, the main measure of earnings from lending, totalled £321.17m, compared with £297.36m a year earlier.
Bad debt charges totalled £122.85m, compared with X134.29m a year earlier.