ohannesburg – South African mass market lender African Bank Investments posted a 26 percent drop in first-half earnings on Monday, hit by rising bad debts from its heavily leveraged customers.

The company also warned its retail furniture business would likely fall to a loss for the year, as demand from cash-strapped consumers wanes.African Bank, known as Abil, said headline earnings for the six months to March totalled 125.7 cents, compared with 170.4 cents a year earlier.

The bank targets millions of low-income South Africans through loans and furniture, which it sells on credit. The furniture business is likely to see a “small loss” for the full-year, Chief Financial Officer Nithia Nalliah told reporters on a conference call.

Abil and its rivals are seeing a spike in bad loans after years of aggressive lending in Africa’s top economy.Household debt levels currently stand at around a record of 76 percent of disposable income.

Reuters

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