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MEXICO CITY, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Grupo Financiero Banorte, Mexico's fourth-largest bank by assets, said on Thursday its third-quarter net profit rose 15 percent from the same period last year, mostly as a result of its increased stake in a pensions and insurance unit.
The bank's net profit rose to 4.04 billion pesos ($301 million) for the July-September period.
Banorte did not give a figure for the year-earlier quarterly profit in its initial press release.
This largely reflected Banorte's buyout last year of Italian insurer Assicurazioni Generali's 49 percent stake in what had been a joint-venture insurance and pensions business.
After a slow first half of the year, Mexico's economy showed signs of revival in the third quarter driven by a pickup in U.S. demand for Mexican goods.
Banorte said its loan book, not including bad loans, rose 7 percent in the quarter compared with a year earlier to reach 444.944 billion pesos.
Bad loans increased to 14.951 billion pesos, up 8 percent compared with the year-earlier period, reflecting a wide range of loan types hit by the slowdown in the economy, Banorte said.
Mexican media in August began speculating that the bank's chairman Guillermo Ortiz could leave the company. Banorte issued a statement in response saying that any board changes would be announced through the channels established by the regulator.
Carlos Hank Gonzalez, whose grandfather founded Banorte, recently left his post as chief executive of bank Grupo Interacciones to join Banorte's board.
Banorte shares closed up 0.31 percent at 83.3 pesos per share before the bank reported its results. ($1 = 13.4235 Mexican pesos at end-Sept.) (Reporting by Christine Murray Editing by Alan Crosby and James Dalgleish)