JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's second-biggest bank, FirstRand, reported a 29 percent jump in first-half profit on Tuesday as earnings from lending and fees both grew by double digits.
FirstRand said diluted headline earnings totalled 131.1 cents per share in the six months to end-December, from 101.5 cents a year earlier.
The bank said last week earnings would likely be as much as 29 percent higher.
High margin loans from its retail unit, First National Bank (FNB), and asset finance arm WesBank boosted net interest income before impairments 18 percent to 12.376 billion rand. Non-interest income grew 17 percent to 15.735 billion rand.
Like its South African rivals, FirstRand has spread north with its latest acquisition target being a 75 percent stake in Merchant Bank Ghana for $91 million.
The $19 billion bank has several African operations including a merchant banking business in the continent's most populous country.
It has been eyeing three Nigerian banks nationalised two years ago - Mainstreet, Keystone and Enterprise - for an acquisition, and has prepared a $300 million warchest.
Shares have dropped 0.5 percent so far this year, lagging behind a 1.6 percent rise by Johannesburg's Top-40 index.