Mumbai: Helped by good growth in corporate loans, country's largest private sector lender ICICI Bank on Monday posted a better-than-expected 22 per cent rise in profit at Rs 1,503 crore for the September quarter of the current fiscal.

Its profit in the same quarter in the previous fiscal was Rs 1,236 crore.

The net interest income (NII) for the period under review grew nearly 14 per cent to Rs 2,506 crore from Rs 2,204 crore. The fee income rose 7 per cent to Rs 1,700 crore from Rs 1,590 crore in the year-ago period.

The total income increased to Rs 9,897.17 crore from Rs 7,887.03 crore.

"Our loan growth was diversified in the September quarter, being led by corporate loan book which grew nearly 30 percent, primarily driven by working capital advances.

"What was significant was the 4 percent growth in the retail loan book, because for the past two years, we had not been consciously growing our retail assets at all. A part of the advances growth came from sanctions made in the previous quarter," ICICI Bank MD & CEO Chanda Kochhar said in a conference call.

Significantly, the bank's net non-performing assets as a percentage of total loans fell sharply by 50 percent to 0.93 percent at Rs 319 crore, driven by a major improvement on the retail and non-secured loan books.

Its provision coverage ratio rose to 78 percent during the period, well above the RBI-mandated 70 percent.  On NPAs, Kochhar said she is not expecting any shocker in the coming quarters, though there can be some slippages.

She also ruled out worries about the power sector, where the bank has one of the highest exposures (about Rs 40,000 crore), saying almost 50 percent of loans were to already operating plants. "We are quite comfortable with our power sector exposure."

The bank's capital adequacy ratio stood at 18.99 percent with the Tier-1 capital adequacy standing at 13.14 percent.

Loans outstanding grew 20 percent from a year earlier to Rs 2,33,952 crore, and the bank's cheaper fund source, Casa ratio, stood at 42 percent, of which 28 pc are in the savings accounts.

Kochhar parried a question on whether her bank will follow the smaller rivals in increasing the interest on savings bank deposits. She merely said, "We are watching the market."

On a consolidated basis, net profit soared 43 per cent to Rs 1,991.68 crore during the reporting quarter, up from Rs 1,394.94 crore a year ago, mostly driven a robust showing by
the life insurance arm -ICICI Pru Life- which alone chipped in a Rs 350 crore profit against Rs 15 crore in the same quarter last fiscal, Kochhar said.

Consolidated income increased to Rs 16,110.61 crore from Rs 14,464.55 crore.

On the international subsidiaries, Kochhar said they are not growing, but that is as per the plans, while foreign branches are reporting a healthy growth.

Kochhar said she is hopeful of retaining the current level of net interest margin (the spread between the interest paid and interest earned) at 2.6 in the rest of the fiscal.

The bank restructured loans worth Rs 743 crore during the quarter, while some loan books have been upgraded taking the overall book size of such advances to Rs 2,501 crore, mostly
contributed by the troubled MFI sector, Kochhar said.