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Barclays Africa Battles Weak Economy to Post Rising Profit

  • First-half net income gained 3.7%; interim dividend raised
  • Results ‘better than expected,” Sanlam analyst Rassou says

Barclays Africa Group Ltd., the South African lender that’s being sold by its London-based parent, reported first-half profit growth of 3.7 percent even as credit impairments and non-performing loans increased and the economy shrank.

Net income climbed to 7.02 billion rand ($497 million) in the six months through June from 6.77 billion rand a year earlier, Johannesburg-based Barclays Africa said in a statement on Friday. Earnings per share excluding one-time items increased 7 percent to 8.57 rand, beating the 8.44 rand median estimate of four analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The bank declared an increased interim dividend of 4.60 rand per share.

The results were better than expected and showed “strong top line growth from the rest of Africa,” Patrice Rassou, head of equities at Cape Town-based Sanlam Investment Management, said in e-mailed comments. “Hopefully bad debts will stabilize. They should be able to grow dividends in line with earnings.”

Barclays Africa shares gained as much as 2 percent to 157.48 rand, on track for the highest close since December, and traded 1 percent higher as of 9:36 a.m. in...