Zenith Bank sees return to loan growth this year

Zenith Bank expects to grow its loan book by 2.5 per cent this year as a recovering economy and a drive to win business with manufacturers helps to offset a decline in credit in the first half, it said on Tuesday. Loans fell 6.3 percent in the six months to the end of June following a 4.6 per cent decline last year, Zenith said on a call with analysts. 

The bank said weak economic growth affected lending last year. However, as the economy improves it expects loans to grow, especially as the central bank introduces liquidity to the banking sector targeting credit to manufacturers.

“For the manufacturing sector, we still see some opportunity there. We believe that there would be an incentive for the manufacturers … and the engagement has started,” it said. Zenith added its retail banking business was also growing. It posted half-year pretax profit of N107.36 billion($352 million), up from N92.18 billion in the same period last year. Its shares dropped 0.84 per cent to N23.75, tracking a fall in the wider stock market, which was down 0.4 per cent.

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