Colombia's Grupo Aval 2020 net profit falls 13.7%

BOGOTA, March 12 (Reuters) - Grupo Aval, Colombia’s largest financial conglomerate, on Friday reported a 13.7% fall in 2020 net profit, which it attributed to a deterioration of its loan portfolio due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, and increased costs.

Grupo Aval’s net profit came in at 4.63 trillion pesos ($1.3 billion) last year, down from the record 5.36 trillion pesos it reported for 2019. Fourth-quarter net profit rose 9.4% year-on-year to 1.4 trillion pesos.

Net interest income rose 6% during 2020 to 11.9 trillion pesos, the company said in a statement released late on Thursday. Outstanding debt rose 49.4% to 6.26 trillion pesos, it added.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic in March last year, banks owned by Grupo Aval have activated relief programs for 30% of debtors in its Colombia loan portfolio and around 45% of those in its Central America portfolio, it added.

Loans more than 30 days past due rose to 4.9% of its portfolio by the end of 2020, up from 4.4% at the end of 2019.

A provision for impairment of the portfolio and accounts receivable reached 10.9 trillion Colombian pesos at the end of the year.

Grupo Aval also reported a 4.7% increase in costs during the year.

Separately, income from the company’s non-financial activities rose 19% in 2020 from the previous year, driven by an improved performance in the energy and gas sector.

“Despite the difficult situation, Aval’s diversification strategy and its focus on profitable and sustainable growth, and risk management, paid off,” the company said.

Grupo Aval’s banks include Banco de Bogota, Banco Popular, Banco Av Villas, Banco de Occidente, as well as Corporacion Financiera Colombiana and pensions fund Porvenir.

$1 = 3,576.7400 Colombian pesos Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra; Writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Jan Harvey