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Bengaluru: Axis Bank Ltd, India's third biggest private-sector lender, on Tuesday reported a surprise 1,388 crore loss for the fourth quarter, as it set aside funds to cover potential loan losses due to the coronavirus-driven downturn.

The Mumbai-based Axis booked provisions of 7,730 crore for the quarter, or nearly three times higher than last year, including 3,000 crore towards COVID-19, the lender said in a regulatory filing.

Analysts had expected a profit of 1,556 crore for the three months to March 31, according to Refinitiv data, compared to a reported profit of 1,505 crore a year earlier.

However, gross bad loans as a percentage of total loans, a measure of asset quality, eased to 4.86% at March-end from 5% in the previous quarter.

It had reported a profit of 1,757 crore in the October to December quarter (Q3FY20).

The net interest income in Q4FY20 grew by 19 per cent year-on-year to 6,808 crore while operating profit was up by 17 per cent to 5,851 crore.

On the asset quality front, net NPAs declined to 1.56 per cent in the quarter ended March.

Provisions and contingencies during the quarter stood at 7,730 crore, increasing significantly from 2,711 crore year-on-year and 3,471 crore quarter-on-quarter.

For the entire year 2019-20, the net profit was 1,627 crore compared to 4,677 crore in the year ended March 2019. Adjusted for the one-offs, net profit for FY20 would have been 5,182 crore. up 11 per cent year-on-year, the lender said.

The net interest income in FY20 grew by 16 per cent year-on-year to 25,206 crore.

As on March 31, the bank's gross NPAs stood at 30,234 crore and net NPAs at 9,360 crore. The bank's provision coverage as a proportion of gross NPAs stood at 69 per cent.

Managing Director and CEO Amitabh Chaudhry said the COVID-19 crisis is a long drawn one and it will need courage, grit and a fighting spirit to combat it.

"We believe in learning from all adversaries. For example, the lock-down has taught us how work-from-home (WFH) can be more productive and convenient. We will keep learning and pushing our limits to emerge stronger as an organisation," he said in a statement.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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