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China Merchants Bank first-quarter profits up 87 per cent

China's largest non-state controlled lender China Merchants Bank has announced it expects first-quarter profits to show growth of 87 per cent.

Profits of $8.79 million meant that the bank outperformed other institutions in the sector.

Analysts attribute the growth to a number of factors but the company's burgeoning lending interests in the fast-growing economy is chief among them, with China Merchants' recently attracting a further five million credit card clients over the course of 2006.

Meanwhile, a tax break from the Beijing government that meant the company could cut its corporate tax by 905 million yuan also helped.

Testament to the company's performance is the fact that its shares are up over 60 per cent over the last six months and command the highest value of domestic banks traded in Hong Kong.

Merchants Bank, which will officially announce its profits on April 27th, was the first bank in China to bring innovations such as online banking and dual-currency credit cards to the market.