Access Bank Plc is expecting a loan growth of 20 per cent this year, after a 17 per cent rise in the first half, driven by increased lending to its corporate and investment banking customers.

The Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank, Mr. Herbet Wigwe, told a conference call participants on Wednesday that its loan book stood at N811bn in 2013, up 33 per cent from the previous year.

He spoke, while presenting the bank’s half-year results.

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“We would see some payoff from the state governments … but it will be replaced by some private sector loans,” Wigwe said, adding that he expected a slower growth of 15 per cent for 2015.

Foreign currency loans accounted for 46 per cent of total loans in the first half, Wigwe said, adding that he expected to grow the naira loan book in the second half to boost interest income and reduce currency exposure.

Shares in Access Bank, which have risen 2.1 per cent so far this year, climbed 2.04 per cent to N10 each, according to Reuters.

Wigwe said Access Bank was targeting a return on equity of 20 per cent this year, up from 18.3 per cent in the first half. ROE stood at 14.9 per cent in 2013.

The top-tier lender had on Monday said its first-half pretax profit grew to N27.1bn, up 3.85 per cent from a year ago and declared an interim dividend of N0.25 each