This translated into headline earnings per share of 152.6 cents, which was 22% up on the 126.7 cents achieved in the previous year. This was slightly lower than the I-Net Bridge consensus forecast of around 159.5 cents per share.

The group declared a final dividend of 34 cents per share compared to 28.5 cents previously, which brought the total dividend for the year to 66 cents per share compared to 55.10 cents per share last year.

FirstRand said the results were achieved in a positive economic environment, which provided strong organic growth opportunities for the group's banking and insurance businesses.

"The South African economy remained very strong during the financial year which provided both our banking and insurance businesses with significant organic growth opportunities. The combination of this positive environment, combined with the successful growth strategies pursued by the Group's underlying businesses, resulted in an excellent overall performance," group CEO Paul Harris said.

FirstRand Banking Group, which produced normalised earnings growth of 20% to R7.2bn, benefited from an outstanding performance from RMB and strong performances from FNB and WesBank. Sustained low interest rates continued to result in strong advances growth for FNB and WesBank although margins declined due to competitive and funding pressures. The strong equity markets and a healthy pipeline of BEE transactions underpinned the excellent performance of a number of RMB's businesses.

The combination of buoyant equity markets and the continued success of Momentum's distribution model, resulted in a significant increase in lump sum investment inflows. Sales of recurring premium risk policies continued to also show strong growth, although sales of recurring premium investment products were negatively impacted by a reduction in retirement annuity sales.

Discovery delivered a strong performance growing normalised earnings by 34% to R424m. This performance reflects Discovery's successful organic growth strategy, according to FirstRand.

First National Bank (FNB) produced excellent results for the year, with profit before tax increasing 22% to R5.06bn. Its segment strategy continues to be successful as it facilitates product innovation and differentiation.

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