State Bank of Mauritius (SBM) posted a 7.5% rise in pretax profit for the nine months ended March 31 and said it expected credit demand to pick up through 2011.
SBM, which has about a 25% share of total banking sector assets in the island, said pretax profit for the period rose to Rs1.96 billion ($72.1 million) compared with Rs1.82 billion a year earlier, helped by a jump in noninterest income.
“Credit demand in Mauritius is expected to pick up ... on the back of improved economic outlook, stronger corporate earnings and improved business confidence,” the bank said in a statement. Earnings per share rose to Rs6.21 from Rs5.94. The results were released after the close of the day’s trading, with SBM’s share price holding steady at Rs96.
Ranked the Indian Ocean island’s second-largest bank by assets, SBM said a 29% jump in non-interest income was due to “dividend income, profit from disposal of investments coupled with fee and commission income”.
It said net interest income edged higher to Rs1.895 billion from Rs1.844 billion as gross loans rose 15.6% to Rs51.8 billion while deposits climbed 8.7% to Rs66.9 billion. Higher taxes curbed the results, it said, adding that excess liquidity in the market remained a concern.
The central bank has accused commercial banks of parking surplus funds in government securities rather than lending to the private sector. The regulator plans to cap banks’ holdings of short-term government paper.
“Net interest margins are expected to remain under pressure due to persisting excess liquidity... and severe competition,” SBM said. Commercial banks say low credit demand is the root cause of the high liquidity levels.
The bank, which is involved in retail and corporate banking, currency and securities trading, e-Business, leasing and asset management said it plans to expand its international business, singling out India as a bright opportunity.