KCB Group said yesterday net profit rose 13.6 per cent to Sh8.17 billion for the six-month period ended last June from Sh7.19 billion during a similar period last year.
The bank was ahead of its closest rival Equity bank whose profit reached Sh7.66 billion, although the latter had a better growth of 21.4 per cent.
Chief executive Joshua Oigara said the profitability was largely powered by a 6.73 per cent increase in net interest income to Sh17.13 billion.
Earnings from transaction fees and commissions rose a 12.5 per cent to Sh5.67 billion while that from foreign exchange was up 24.7 per cent o Sh2.22 billion.
"Going forward, we are really going to grow our non-funded income streams," Oigara said, citing projected growth in transactions on its mobile banking platform M-Benki, its countrywide agents and the recently launched partnership with Safaricom for low-value loans to SMEs.
The lender advanced Sh29.92 billion in loans more than a corresponding period in 2013 to Sh244.01 billion while deposits were Sh63.88 billion better to Sh351.6 billion.
The ratio of bad debt to net loans increased to 8.8 per cent in June 2014 from 8.4 per cent a year ago.
"Our internal target for NPL( non-performing loans) is to bring it down to 4.5 per cent by end of the year," Oigara said. "This is because the contractors who were the main defaulters are now paying up after the government started releasing funds."
The bank is planning a long term international corporate bond in the near term to support capital intensive projects in mainly in real estate, infrastructure and mining sectors.
Oigara said credit rating in preparation for the debt issue after government's successful sovereign bond on June 23 was already ongoing.
The debut Eurobond raised Sh175.4 billion($2 billion) on Irish Stock Exchange, divided into two tranches of Sh43.85 billion($500 million) and Sh131.55 billion($1.5 billion) at the rate of 5.875 and 6.875 per cent respectively in yield.
"International credit rating began this year because we now have a reference which is very good because now we have a reference rate and this is an exciting story for us," he said.
KCB, rated at AA with a stable outlook for its Kenyan business by Global Credit Rating Company, was however not in a hurry to raise capital, Oigara said citing a surplus of Sh15 billion in investments lined up between July 2014 and December 2015.
The bank's core capital to risk weighted assets slumped to 15.9 from 16.5 per cent a year earlier, but remained above the minimum statutory requirement of 10.5 per cent.
KCB was assessing investment opportunities in Zambia, DRC, Somalia and Mozambique with a view of setting up between 2015 and 2017, Oigara said.