Updated at 7.06pm: Commercial banking group BoC Hong Kong (Holdings) on Thursday reported a 16.86 per cent rise in net profit to $6.52 billion for the six months to June, up from $5.6 billion in the first half of last year. Higher operating profit, an increase in recovery of loans previously written off and a property revaluation gain contributed to the profit growth. Bank chairman Xiao Gang said the economic upturn had boosted demand for credit and banking services. 'The group has continued to pursue growth and excellence through a proactive business strategy that stresses higher yields and higher asset quality,' Mr Xiao added. BoC HK's interest income increased to $10 billion in the first six months of the year, from $7.3 billion previously. Its operating profit rose about 16.6 per cent to $7.92 billion for the interim period, up from $6.8 billion in the six months to June last year. BoC Hong Kong announced it would pay an interim dividend of 33 cents a share. Bank vice-chairman and chief executive He Guangbei remained optimistic about the growth in the second half, despite rising interest rates and oil prices. 'The relatively high growth recorded by the group in corporate and personal loans should lay a solid foundation for the increase in net interest income in the second half of the year ... we will focus on optimising the structure of our loan portfolio and enhancing loan yields,' he added. The group also performed well in its mainland business. Its yuan deposits increased 63.8 per cent in the interim period. The number of yuan credit cards issued rose 23 per cent. The group said it remained a clear market leader in personal yuan deposits and yuan credit cards. It would further expand in the mainland market. BoC Hong Kong has about 300 branches in Hong Kong and 14 on the mainland to provide financial products and services for retail and corporate customers. It is one of the three note-issuing banks in Hong Kong. BoC shares fell about 5.4 per cent and closed at $15.95 on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Thursday afternoon, after the results were released.