ICICI's net profit in the quarter ended March rose to 26.52 billion rupees from 23.04 billion rupees a year earlier, the bank said on Friday. This was higher than the 25.5 billion rupees estimates of analysts polled.

Indian banks have recently shifted their focus from corporate lending to consumer debt in a bid to avoid an increase in bad loans by companies struggling in an economy growing at its slowest pace in a decade.

ICICI said its loan book grew an annual 17 percent to 3.4 trillion rupees as of end of March. Retail loans grew faster at 23 percent.

ICICI's net interest income, the difference between interest earned and paid, also rose 14.6 percent to 43.57 billion rupees in the quarter. Net interest margin for the quarter was 3.35 percent.

Indian banks have seen a surge in loan defaults over the past year, and have also started to boost provisions. ICICI said its provisions for bad loans had risen more than 55 percent in the March quarter from the same year ago period to 7.14 billion rupees.

Net non-performing loans as a percentage of total assets rose to 0.97 percent during the quarter from 0.77 percent a year in the same year-ago period, but they remained below the sector average of around 4 percent in 2013.

Shares in ICICI, which has a market value of nearly USD 25 billion, were down 2.6 percent at 0819 GMT, underperforming a 0.7 percent fall in the Bank Nifty and a 0.8 percent fall in the Nifty.

The bank's smaller rival HDFC Bank on Tuesday reported a 23 percent rise in net profit, the slowest growth in a more than a decade and slightly lower than estimates, as a weaker economy put the brakes on lending.


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