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UPDATE 1-Banknote maker De La Rue upbeat on profit, plans more polymer spending

(Adds background, details on statement, share move)

Jan 28 (Reuters) - Banknote printer De La Rue said on Thursday annual profit would exceed market expectations and set aside five million pounds ($6.83 million) more than it previously planned for its polymer strategy under an ongoing turnaround plan.

The company, which prints currencies from Kenyan shilling to Sri Lankan rupees, said the total investment remains 79.8 million pounds for the programme that calls for more focus on polymer used in making banknotes with security features not available in paper ones.

Shares in the world’s largest commercial banknote printer and passport maker were up nearly 3% on the UK small-cap index in early trading.

The company expects adjusted operating profit for the year ending March 31 to be between 36 million pounds and 37 million pounds, compared with the analysts’ consensus of 34 million pounds, despite losing the contract to make Britain’s post-Brexit passports.

After a series of profit warnings in 2019, the latest update is another sign of improvement in business for De La Rue, which had last year raised 100 million pounds in new equity and cut jobs to recover from debt issues.

Its currency division performed strongly during the pandemic, which has forced central banks to print trillions of dollars worth of notes to reboot their crisis-hit economies.

It also pointed to positive momentum in customers switching to its polymer notes. ($1 = 0.7326 pounds) (Reporting by Muvija M and Chris Peters in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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