Zenith Bank expects loan volumes to return to growth this year after 2018’s decline, and is targeting higher activity in the agricultural sector, the bank said yesterday.
The lender said it aimed to grow loans by 7.5 per cent in 2019 after they declined last year due to early repayments, saying borrowers were replacing overdrafts with term loans. It had guided for loans to grow 2.5 per cent in 2018.
“Our expectation is that the economy will continue to strengthen,” the bank told analysts’ saying “it will throw up opportunities to grow the loan book.”
Nigeria’s economy expanded in 2018 at its fastest pace since a recession two years earlier, while inflation fell in January from a seven-month high.
The bank said it saw opportunities in the agricultural sector which receives good support from the government, and that as the economic recovery continues, it could also open up opportunities to lend to manufacturers.
Zenith Bank on Tuesday posted a 16.2 per cent rise in pretax profit to N231.7 billion for 2018. Its shares have risen 25 per cent from their January lows, though they fell 1.94 per cent on yesterday.
The bank said its $500 million eurobond matures in April, saying it plans to repay the bond from its cashflow, and has no need to tap the market again immediately.