Zachary Ochuodho @zachuodho The NCBA Group wants to scale-up its retail banking, deepen its corporate banking and asset finance as well as propel its digital transformation to boost its growth this year, the group said yesterday. It revealed the strategy at an investor briefing on its financial results for the year ended December 31, 2019. The group, formed after Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA) Group merged with NIC Group recorded a net profit of Sh7.8 billion for the year under review, compared to Sh6.7 billion, a 16.4 per cent jump from what is reported in a similar period in 2018. \u201cOur operating income in the fourth quarter totalled Sh11.6 billion. We have continued to register very impressive growth in advances and deposit over the last two quarters despite being in a merger process,\u201d said John Gachora, group MD. This was the first financial report the group is reporting since the two merged in October 2019. Operating income Similarly, the profit before tax increased from Sh6.7 billion in 2018 to Sh11.3 billion up to the period ended December 31, 2019. Gachora said the total operating income for the year was Sh33.7 billion and profit after tax was Sh7.8 billion. He said the successful completion of the merger was due to the hard work of its colleagues with superb guidance from the board adding that its integration and execution efforts continue in earnest. Gachora said the exceptional items of Sh2.1 billion comprised merger costs, amortisation of intangibles and goodwill write off on consolidation, while Sh1.2 billion was classified as de-recognition of deferred tax assets in subsidiary entities. The group made loan loss provisions of Sh6.2 billion. The ratio of non-performing loans to the total loan book stands at 12.0 per cent, in line with the industry average. \u201cImpairment provisions at the bank rose to Sh5.9 billion from Sh2.1 billion. The increase in provisions is driven by asset quality deterioration particularly in the transport and manufacturing sectors and on the mobile loan portfolio,\u201d he said. The net assets transferred have been adjusted to fair value and intangible assets identified as part of the purchase price allocation exercise incorporated in the consolidated financial statements according to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS 3). Costs incurred Gachora said the merger-related costs incurred in 2019 included in the comprehensive income statements and disclosed as exceptional items totalled Sh1.1 billion covering integration, advisory and legal expenses among others. \u00a0\u201cFollowing the merger, the Group saw its asset base close the year under review at Sh495 billion while the customer base stood at 50.1 million. Deposits stood at Sh378 billion while the net loan book closed at Sh249 billion,\u201d he added.