South Africa's fourth-largest lender Nedbank reported an 8.5 percent rise in annual profit on Wednesday, meeting estimates, as growth in fee income offset muted growth in lending.

Diluted headline EPS came in at 2,242 cents per share in the year to end-December, largely in line with a forecast by Thomson Reuters StarMine SmartEstimates, which puts more weight on timely forecasts and those from historically accurate analysts.

Headline EPS is the main profit gauge in South Africa that strips out certain one-off items.

Non-interest revenue, or income from transaction and deposit fees, rose 7.1 percent to almost 22 billion rand ($1.41 billion)while net-interest income, a closely watched measure of how much money banks make from their loans, grew marginally, helped by corporate credit demand.

Lending to companies is increasingly becoming the mainstay for banks in Africa's most advanced economy as they pull back from high margin but risky unsecured credit, which relies solely on a customer's promise to pay it back, due to dangerously high personal debt levels.

But an electricity crisis at home and the impact of weaker commodity prices in nearby sub-Saharan African countries could temper corporate credit growth.

Full-year dividend per share was up 7.7 percent to 1,107 c