July 26, 2017 / 6:46 AM / a year ago

CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-International Personal Finance's H1 profit rises

(Corrects second paragraph to say ‘2.4 million’, not ‘more than 2.8 million’)

July 26 (Reuters) - Consumer credit lender International Personal Finance reported a higher pretax profit from continuing operations in the first half, boosted primarily by positive currency translations.

IPF, which provides small personal loans to 2.4 million borrowers in Europe and Mexico, said pretax profit from continuing operations rose to 43 million pounds ($56 million) in the six months ended June, from 33 million pounds a year earlier.

Positive forex movements added 6.7 million pounds to the group’s profit.

Revenue rose 2.6 percent to 400.8 million pounds.

“Our ongoing European home credit businesses performed in line with expectations, Mexico continued to deliver positive business momentum and IPF Digital reported excellent top-line growth,” Chief Executive Gerard Ryan said.

The company said it was continuing to engage with the Polish Ministry of Justice concerning proposed changes to the total cost of credit regulations.

Poland, which together with Lithuania makes up IPF’s biggest market, has proposed to lower the limit on non-interest costs to 75 percent of the amount of the loan from 100 percent.

“While we expect the regulatory landscape in Europe to remain challenging, we continue to believe our Mexico home credit business and IPF Digital offer significant growth opportunities,” Ryan said.

The company, which provides small personal loans in eastern Europe and Mexico, has shut shop in Slovakia, Bulgaria and stopped lending to high-risk customers in Poland.

IPF’s home credit business has been troubled by intense competition as well as regulatory upheavals. The unit saw profit rising to 58.3 million pounds in the first half, from 45 million pounds a year earlier.

Home credit business accounted for more than 90 percent of the company’s total revenue in 2016, but digital lenders were luring away IPF’s higher creditworthy customers, forcing the company to spend more to retain them.

IPF maintained its interim dividend at 4.6 pence per share.

Total credit issued in the period rose 9.9 percent to 616 million pounds, driven by strong demand in Mexico for home credit and its digital business.

$1 = 0.7678 pounds Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier

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