- TBC Bank, the largest retail lender in Georgia, has reported a 19.8% boost in its underlying consolidated net profit for 2019, supported by a strong Georgian economy.

The underlying return on equity for the year ended December 31, 2019 was 22.6% and underlying return on assets stood at 3.3%.

In 2019, the bank's operating income was up by 3.7% year-on-year, supported by an increase in net fee and commission income and net interest income.

The growth in net interest income was related to re-classification of net gains on currency swaps in the amount of GEL28.6 million from other operating income, which offset by the decline in net interest income related to introduction of responsible lending regulation from 1 January 2019, limiting the Bank's ability to lend money to higher-yield retail customers.

Consequently, the net interest margin decreased by 1.3 pp year-on-year and stood at 5.6% in 2019 and 5.3% in the fourth quarter of 2019.

By the end of 2019, the net interest margin has been fully rebased to the new level and is expected to stabilise at the 2019 fourth quarter level, the bank said.

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