Picture: SUPPLIED
Picture: SUPPLIED

African Bank’s turnaround continues to gather pace, with the revenant lender posting its largest interim profit since its collapse nearly four years ago.

The bank, which was placed into curatorship in August 2014, is aggressively growing deposits and will launch its retail bank account to the public in the final quarter of 2018.

Speaking to Business Day after announcing the group’s interim results for the six months to March, CE Basani Maluleke said that all energy was being directed to the launch of the transactional bank.

She was already using African Bank’s My World transactional account, together with 1,900 staff, and would have her salary deposited into the account from June.

African Bank, which is state controlled through stakes owned by the Reserve Bank and the Public Investment Corporation, emerged from curatorship in April 2016. The curatorship involved stripping out the “bad bank”, which had a book value after specific impairments of R17bn, and rehabilitating the “good bank”.

The plan has worked.

After reporting a R9.3bn loss for the 12 months to September 2014, African Bank on Tuesday posted a 42% rise to R715m in interim operating profit. Its credit loss ratio has improved from 13.8% to 11.1%, which is in line with Capitec.

African Bank’s loan book grew 9% to R4.8bn, as it diversifies away from personal loans to risky customers.

African Bank has managed to grow retail deposits 90% to R680m by offering 10.5% interest on 60-month deposits. This is across 13,121 accounts, with an average deposit of R52,000.

African Bank planned to poach customers from other banks when it launched its retail account, said Maluleke. This did not mean it would alienate loyal customers in the low-income market. It planned to do more research on what that customer base wanted, she said.

African Bank’s launch will coincide with that of Michael Jordaan-backed Bank Zero and Discovery Bank.

ziadyh@businesslive.co.za