| LAGOS, March 9
LAGOS, March 9 Nigeria's Access Bank
said its lending grew by 32 percent last year, far above its
target for 2016, due largely to a devaluation which drove up the
naira value of foreign loans.
Core credit rose only 8 percent, it said.
Access had set a 10 percent target last year for loan growth
and said it would keep the same target for this year, while
monitoring to limit bad loans.
Loans grew 25 percent in 2015, it said in a presentation.
Nigerian loan books - nearly half of them in dollars - have
been hammered by the economy's first recession in a quarter
century. Lower oil prices have sent the currency plunging and
caused acute dollar shortages.
The naira lost around a third of its value against
the dollar last year after the central bank stopped trying to
peg it. The currency has since weakened further on the black
market despite interventions to maintain a stronger official
Access Bank said its non-performing loans (NPL) stood at 2.1
percent in 2016, up from 1.7 percent in 2015. Industry NPLs hit
12 percent last year, according to a government estimate, far
above a 5 percent central bank limit.
On Monday, Access Bank posted pretax profit of 90.34 billion
naira ($290 million) for 2016, up from 75.04 billion naira a
year earlier and proposed a dividend of 0.40 naira.
It shares were up 3.72 percent to 6.53 naira on Thursday,
taking gains to 10 percent this year after they rose 21 percent
a year ago.
($1 = 314.20 naira)
(Editing by Ruth Pitchford)