- BGEO Group has posted strong first half results driven by an improving macroeconomic environment.

Pre-tax profits for the second quarter rose to GEL128,146,000 - 175.6% up on a year ago and 13.1% higher than the previous three months.

First half pre-tax profits rose to GEL241,434,000 - up 68.3% on last time.

In the banking business half year profit before non-recurring items and income tax grew by 14.8% year-on-year supported, in particular by excellent franchise growth in the retail bank, which led to net interest income increasing by 24.4%.

Margins remained broadly stable, despite the continuing impact of high levels of excess liquidity and the issuance in May 2017 of the GEL500 million Eurobond, as a greater share of retail loans in the total loan portfolio supported higher blended loan yield in the second quarter of 2017.

The return on average equity in the banking business was 23.4% for the first half of the year, compared to 21.4% in the first half of 2016.

Within the investment businesses, Georgia Healthcare Group continued in its significant business roll-out phase in a number of key areas and, in the first half of 2017, made strong progress in integrating its recent Pharmacy acquisitions and delivering key organic growth priorities, such as the Sunstone and Deka hospital redevelopment projects.

Group chief executive Irakli Gilauri said: "All this has been achieved whilst adapting to recently implemented changes in Georgia's Universal Healthcare Programme and seeking to develop a more diverse stream of revenues, particularly in the pharmacy and Polyclinic businesses.

"In the first half of 2017, EBITDA of GEL 51.2 million represented a 50.4% increase half-on-half.

"In the healthcare services business, the EBITDA margin was 27.5% in the second quarter of 2017, compared to 25.3% in the first quarter of the year, despite the impact of our significant ongoing investment in the launch of the Sunstone and Deka hospital facilities."

At 8:08am: [LON:BGEO] BGEO Group share price was -154p at 3286p

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