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The country’s biggest banking group in terms of assets, Standard Bank (SBK), said on Thursday that net interest income from banking activities for the first four months of 2012 had benefited from good loan growth towards the end of 2011 and the ongoing improvement in new business lending margins.

It added that non-interest revenue had been boosted by good growth in trading revenues albeit off a lower base in the prior year.

“As anticipated, credit impairment charges reflect some increase as portfolio provisions are created in line with book growth and a more normal charge has been incurred in Corporate & Investment Banking compared to a net recovery in the prior period,” the group stated.

The cost-to-income ratio for the four months was slightly higher than that achieved for the 2011 year but the group remained focused on reducing this ratio, it added.

With regards to Liberty, Standard Bank referred shareholders to the subsidiary’s Liberty market update on 18 May 2012 wherein, referring to the first quarter of 2011, the following comments were included: “The results reflect continued strong growth in Retail SA new business, positive client net cash inflows in both asset management and insurance operations, and a good operational performance. Returns on the shareholder investment portfolio were supported by the positive investment markets.”

The group said it remained well capitalised as at 31 March 2012 with a total capital adequacy of 13.5% and primary capital adequacy of 11.0%, significantly exceeding minimum regulatory requirements. - I-Net Bridge