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Malaysia's AMMB sees 4-5% loan growth this year after mortgage push

[KUALA LUMPUR] AMMB Holdings Bhd , Malaysia's sixth-largest bank by assets, on Thursday forecast loan growth of 4 percent to 5 percent this year, from 3 per cent a year prior, due to the lender's aggressive push in the mortgage segment. "We have seen our mortgage loans starting to pick up this year," Mohamed Azmi Mahmood, acting group managing director, said at a media briefing. Loan growth was slowed last year mainly by reduced demand for hire purchase loans, he said.

A slowing economy and weak currency are pressuring profit growth at Malaysian banks, reducing consumer spending and loan demand. Analysts said that pressure would likely continue into next year as the outlook for the economy was not bright.

AMMB, whose largest shareholder is Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ), said net profit fell 37.6 per cent in the first quarter ended June, mainly due to lower net interest income and weakness in its insurance business.

Profit was 339.51 million ringgit (US$82.77 million), the lowest since March 2012, while revenue was down 18 per cent at 2.1 billion ringgit.

AMMB appointed Mohamed in March from his previous role as deputy group managing director, after announcing in January Group Managing Director Ashok Ramamurthy's return to ANZ as a senior executive.