BEIJING, March 30 (Reuters) - China Construction Bank Corp (CCB) , the country's second-biggest lender by assets, expects its 2017 net interest margin to narrow only slightly over the course of the year, the bank said on Thursday.
The bank's net interest margin, will drop within 10 bps compared to the end of the fourth quarter of last year, Xu Yiming, the bank's chief financial officer, told a news briefing.
The lender's debt-to-equity swaps program was set to exceed 300 billion yuan by the end of the first quarter, bank president Wang Zuji also told reporters.
CCB on Wednesday reported a slightly higher 2016 net profit, amid a squeeze on bank margins. Fourth-quarter profit increased by 2.8 percent to 37.63 billion yuan ($5.46 billion) from 36.6 billion yuan a year earlier.
The bank's net interest margin - the difference between interest paid and earned - narrowed to 2.2 percent at end-December, from 2.63 percent in the same period a year earlier.
CCB's non-performing loan (NPL) ratio eased to 1.52 percent at end-2016 from 1.56 percent at end-September. (Reporting by Shu Zhang and Matthew Miller; Additional reporting by Beijing Monitoring Desk; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)