Colombia's Grupo Aval posts 8.2% fall in Q1 net profit

BOGOTA, May 20 (Reuters) - Colombian financial services company Grupo Aval said on Wednesday its net profit fell 8.2% in the first quarter compared to the same period a year earlier, impacted by a deterioration in its loan portfolio because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Net profit at the company was 700.2 billion pesos ($183 million) between January and March, compared with 762.9 billion reported in the first quarter of 2019.

Compared with the fourth quarter of 2019, net profit was down 2.1%.

“The first quarter of 2020 was a quarter of contrasts marked by a strong growth in January and February and an abrupt deceleration during March, associated with the global pandemic and the oil price war,” the company said in a statement.

Grupo Aval’s income from interest was up 7.2% during the quarter compared to the same period last year, to 2.9 trillion pesos, it said.

But its loan portfolio and accounts receivable took an 18% hit compared to the same period the year before, equivalent to 1.1 trillion pesos.

Grupo Aval includes banks Banco de Bogota, Banco Popular, Banco AV Villas, Banco de Occidente, Corporacion Financiera Colombiana and pension fund Porvenir.

Analysts, the government and the central bank anticipate that a two-months-long coronavirus quarantine will have a strong negative impact on Colombia’s economic growth. The finance ministry predicts the economy will contract 5.5% this year.

Banks have delayed loan payments for both individuals and businesses as unemployment has risen.

$1 = 3,824.30 pesos Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Tom Brown

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