August 5, 2013 / 4:38 PM / 4 years ago

National Bank of Kenya profits edge up, lower rates help

NAIROBI, Aug 5 (Reuters) - National Bank of Kenya said on Monday its pretax profit edged up 3.5 percent in the first six months of 2013, but its numbers still lagged behind other lenders as it overcomes more than a decade of heavy losses.

The lender, which is 70 percent owned by the government and Kenya's state pension fund, said pretax profit rose to 944 million shillings ($10.8 million), helped by a sharp 38 percent fall in total interest expenses to 1.25 billion shillings.

Interest income, as benchmark Kenyan borrowing and lending fell from the second half of last year, for comparison dropped just 10 percent. The difference partly reflects the bank's large holdings of government deposits, on which it pays a relatively high return.

Analysts say the bank has struggled to keep apace with a fast-changing banking sector that has seen nimbler rivals like Equity flourish. National Bank told Reuters in May it was working to cut back on personal loans and target stronger revenue growth, focusing on areas such as home loans and business lending.

The results were released after the market close and the bank made no statement. (Reporting by Kevin Mwanza; Editing by Richard Lough and Patrick Graham)

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