UK's Nationwide profit holds up despite pandemic hit

LONDON, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Britain’s Nationwide Building Society reported robust half-year profits on Friday despite a 139 million pound ($184.55 million) provision for loans that may not be repaid due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The lender reported a pretax profit of 361 million pounds for the six months to September, up 17% from 309 million pounds the previous year.

The bellwether mortgage lender - which is Britain’s second-largest provider of home loans - said it was boosted by strong demand for buy to let mortgages, although its net lending over the period dropped to 1.6 billion pounds, nearly half of the previous year’s 3 billion pounds.

The results covered the bulk of Britain’s first lockdown to control the spread of the virus and the reopening of much of the economy over the summer. The period did not capture the impact of more recent economic and social restrictions. ($1 = 0.7532 pounds) (Reporting by Iain Withers Editing by Rachel Armstrong)