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South African lender Absa said on Tuesday it expected its first-half profits to fall by more than 20 per cent, with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak already taking a substantial toll on its performance and prompting bad debts to double.

The bank said its headline earnings per share - the main profit measure in South Africa - would likely be at least 20 per cent lower in the six months to June 30, versus the 920 cents it reported in the same period last year, and it would give more specific guidance at a later date.

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