NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya's Equity Bank posted a 36 percent jump in pretax profit in 2012, above its own expectations, aided by solid growth in its loan book and a jump in net interest earnings, the company said on Thursday.
Equity, which is the largest bank by customer numbers in the country, said its expansion across east Africa and growth in mobile phone banking had spurred the bank's growth, the bank's chief executive James Mwangi said.
Pretax profits for the 12 months ended December climbed to 17.42 billion shillings.
"The environment is very promising going forward," Mwangi told an investor briefing.
With operations in five east African countries and a knack for rolling out innovative banking services, mainly targeted at the lower end of the market, Equity has become one of the most traded firms on the Nairobi stock exchange since listing in 2006.
Net loans rose 19 percent to 135.69 billion shillings while net interest income surged 48 percent to 23.96 billion shillings, the bank said.
Earnings per share rose 17 percent to 3.26 shillings and the bank recommended a dividend of 1.25 shillings per share, up 25 percent on 2011.
Equity released its results before the 0630 GMT market opening.