Africa's largest lender by assets Standard Bank is reporting a 5% rise in first-half profit as it targets West Africa for expansion.
Higher income from its operations outside of South Africa helped compensate for slower economic growth in its home market, the lender said.
The rest of Africa contributed 34% of banking headline earnings, from 32% in the first half of 2018. Group CEO Sim Tshabalala said the proportion of profit from the rest of Africa would probably continue to rise.
We’re also saying that we’re quite comfortable to contemplate appropriately priced acquisitions to the extent that they might fit with our risk appetite"
Standard Bank Group said total profit attributable to ordinary shareholders grew 3.8% to R13.2bn in the six months to end-June. The group raised its interim dividend 6% to 454c a share.
Revenue at South African banks is being squeezed by an economy that has shrunk for three of the five past quarters.
Tshabalala said the bank is well-positioned for expansion and was particularly interested in countries in the West African Economic and Monetary Union.
"We're also saying that we're quite comfortable to contemplate appropriately priced acquisitions to the extent that they might fit with our risk appetite," he told reporters after presenting the bank's half-year results.
He declined to give a time frame for the potential move, which he had said earlier would have an emphasis on digital expansion.
The bank has also reduced the number of workers by almost 2,100 in the 12 months through June, with the number of employees now standing at 46,168.