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Mauritius Commercial Bank sees stronger H1

PORT LOUIS, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) said it expected better half-year results than last year after a recovery at its foreign exchange operations helped it post a 24.4 percent rise in first-quarter pretax profit. MCB, the biggest bank in east Africa and the Indian Ocean region by assets, made a pretax profit of 1.147 billion Mauritius rupees ($38.11 million) for the quarter ended September 30, compared with 921.489 million rupees a year earlier. "There was a recovery in profits from foreign exchange operations which, last year, had been affected by adverse market conditions," the bank said in a statement. Earnings per share rose to 3.98 rupees from 3.33 rupees previously. MCB said it expected an even better performance for the half-year as the Indian Ocean Island's economic activity picks up, but uncertainty in its main export markets was a concern. "The operating environment of the MCB Group is likely to remain delicate for some time yet, given country-specific vulnerabilities and uncertainties characterising the main export markets of Mauritius," it said. Mauritius relies heavily on markets in Europe for its tourism industry, a significant source of revenue. Its recovery this year has been held in check by sluggish growth across much of Mauritius' core European market as well as the euro's slide against the Mauritius rupee. "Nonetheless, the MCB is well poised to register a rebound in results." MCB has declared an interim dividend of 2.50 rupees per share for the year to June 30 2011. ($1=30.10 Mauritius Rupee) (Reporting by Jean Paul Arouff; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter) Keywords: MAURITIUS MCB/ (Email:nairobi.newsroom@reuters.com;Tel +254 20 2224 717; ReutersMessaging:george.obulutsa.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net) COPYRIGHT Copyright Thomson Reuters 2010. All rights reserved.

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