(Ecofin Agency) - The six largest-listed banks by stock value in Nigeria achieved a consolidated net profit of 601.5 billion naira ($1.58 billion) over the first nine months this year, we learned. Denominated in the local currency, this makes an increase of 5.43% compared to the same period in 2019. In the US dollar, despite the depreciation of the naira, the figure is only 0.25% down YoY.
The dollar value of the net income of banks listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange is important because of the large number of foreign investors in their capital stock. Two factors related to covid-19 marked the performance of these firms. One is the increase in write-downs on certain loans. The Covid-19-related lockdown has forced banks to consider a greater volume of risks of default by their clients. Thus, these write-downs amounted to 162.9 billion naira, up 143.8% compared to those of the same period in 2019.
The profitability of these banks was therefore supported by an overall resilience in interest income, which fell by only 2.5% YoY. Also, thanks to a 10% decline in interest expenses, net income from lending activities to the economy amounted to 1004 billion naira, up 2.52%. Also, stable income from fees and commissions enabled the banking income of the banks under review to increase by 1.9%. Finally, the 10% increase in exceptional income such as capital gains on investment products supported the increase in net profit.
Of the banks whose results were reviewed, Zenith Bank comes first with a profit of 159.3 billion naira; a result supported by strong capital gains on investments that reached 90 billion over the period. Guaranty Trust Bank followed with a net profit of 142.2 billion naira (down 3.2% YoY).
In terms of increase, the best performer was Stanbic Bank, the local subsidiary of South African Standard Bank, whose net profit grew by 19% YoY. The worst performance came from United Bank for Africa which posted a profit down 6% YoY.