SHANGHAI- China Merchants Bank the country's sixth-largest lender, said its net profit in 2008 rose 38.27 percent to 21.08 billion yuan ($3.08 billion).

The 38 percent profit growth for the full year marks a sharp drop from 90 percent growth reported for the first nine months.

Turnover last year rose 35 percent to 55.31 billion yuan, while earnings per share were 1.43 yuan, up 37.50 percent from the previous year, the bank said in a brief preliminary earnings announcement released to the Shanghai Stock Exchange late on Thursday.

The figures were unaudited and based on Chinese accounting standards.

The bank said in March it would book provisions against its purchase last year of Hong Kong's Wing Lung Bank, although it did not indicate the size of the provisions. [ID:nPEK350559]

The bank also warned in November of last year that its growth in loans to individuals was slowing with the weakening economy, although new lending has surged this year with prodding from the government.

Merchants Bank said it would release more detailed results with its annual report on April 25.