- Bank of Georgia said Tuesday annual profits increased by more than fifth as retail banking continued to deliver solid growth across its business lines.

Profit before tax increased 23% to GEL492.64m in 2018 from a year earlier, and revenue increased by 13.3% year-on-year to GEL1.03bn.

The uptick in revenue was led by solid growth in the retail banking, which delivered revenues of GEL 723.5m, up 17.7% from the prior the year.

The retail banking net loan book reached GEL 6,267.1m at 31 December 2018, up 24.2% from a year earlier, predominantly driven by mortgage and micro and SME lending.

Total assets increased to GEL 2,271.5m in the fourth quarter, up 22.3% from a year earlier.

The bank proposed an annual dividend for 2018 of GEL 2.55 per share, a 4.5% increase over last year's dividend.

'During the last 12 months, the banking sector in Georgia has been working with the National Bank of Georgia to implement a number of regulatory changes relating to both retail lending guidelines, specifically updated caps on payment-to-income and loan-to-value ratios and an increase in the GEL 100,000 limit, to GEL 200,000, below which lending must be issued to borrowers in GEL, and to the introduction of Basel III capital adequacy requirements,' the company said.

'As a result of the recent policy changes, we anticipate growth rates in the unsecured consumer sector to moderate, although we continue to expect to deliver solid growth in mortgages and SME lending.'

'Overall, with the strong rates of growth already delivered this year, we now expect customer lending growth for the medium- to long-term to be comfortably within our 15-20% expected growth range, with lending growth expectations over the next twelve months to be closer to 15%.'

At 9:08am: [LON:BGEO] BGEO Group share price was -20.7p at 1704.3p

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