(Alliance News) - TBC Bank Group PLC on Friday celebrated a strong performance in the first quarter, with increases in both interest and fee income, as the company also unveiled a new share buyback programme set to begin next week.

For the three months ended March 31, the Tbilisi, Georgia-based bank reported GEL342.2 million, or GBP102.4 million, in pretax profit, up 16% from GEL296.3 million in the first quarter of 2023.

Total operating income rose 16% to GEL618.0 million from GEL532.2 million.

Of this, net interest income was up 21% to GEL442.8 million from GEL366.8 million, while net fee and commission income increased 13% to GEL104.3 million from GEL92.4 million.

Other non-interest income fell 3.0% to GEL70.8 million from GEL73.0 million.

As at March 31, TBC had GEL33.26 billion in total assets, up 23% from GEL27.14 billion the same time last year.

Customer numbers in both Georgia and Uzbekistan continued to grow in the quarter, TBC said, leading to an increase in its total customer base to 17.9 million from 13.3 million a year before.

Looking ahead, Chief Executive Officer Vakhtang Butskhrikidze said: "I believe that the group is well positioned to build further on this strong start to the year and deliver excellent results for our shareholders in 2024, as well as ensuring we are on track to meet our strategic targets for next year."

Butskhrikidze added that TBC will benefit from the strong economic growth in the two major countries in which it operates.

TBC expects Georgian economic growth to be 6.4% for 2024, alongside 5.6% growth for Uzbekistan.

TBC also announced a new share buyback programme, expected to commence next week.

TBC said it will buy back up to GEL75 million worth of shares, GEL25 million of which will be transferred to the company's employee benefits trust, with the remainder being cancelled.

Shares in TBC Bank were up 1.0% at 2,925.00 pence each in London on Friday morning.

By Hugh Cameron, Alliance News reporter

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