JOHANNESBURG, Nov 20 (Reuters) - South African bank Investec reported an expected 14 percent rise in first-half earnings on Thursday as it benefited from a drop in bad loans and a boost in assets under management.
The Johannesburg-based investment bank and asset manager said diluted headline earnings grew to 16.7 pence a share in the six months to end-September, from 14.7 pence a year earlier.
The bank has been offloading struggling units in Europe and Australia that had dragged on its performance. In September it sold 540 million pounds of Irish mortgages to U.S. private equity firm Lone Star.
Investec, which is also listed in London, said bad debt costs dropped by 20 percent, to 66.4 million pounds ($104 million).
Net interest income, the measure of earnings from lending, totalled 332.4 million pounds, a 4 percent increase from a year earlier, even as loan volume declined.
Income from fees and commissions rose 5 percent to 590.7 million pounds.
Investec shares traded in Johannesburg are up 40 percent so far this year, outpacing a 21 percent rise by South Africa's banking index. (1 US dollar = 0.6393 British pound) (Reporting by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura; editing by David Dolan)