Standard Chartered on Wednesday said its first-half net profit rose 12 percent to a record high thanks to strong revenue growth, despite an increasingly challenged economic environment. The Asia-focused emerging market bank\'s net profit for the six months to June 30 rose to $2.81 billion compared to $2.52 billion in the same period in 2011, it said in a statement. The result is above the average forecast of US$2.7 billion, according to a poll by Dow Jones Newswires. Revenue rose to $9.51 billion from $8.76 billion a year earlier. Chief Executive Peter Sands said the lender was \"on course to deliver on its target of double-digit revenue growth\" despite the US dollar\'s strength against Asian currencies and an \"increasingly complex regulatory environment\". He said the London-based bank was in a good position to invest for long-term growth. \"Given the opportunities we see arising from the turbulence and the disarray of our competitors, we are stepping up the pace of investment,\" he said. \"Most of this is to fuel organic growth. Whilst we do look out for acquisitions to build scale, get market access, or gain critical capabilities, the primary driver of growth is organic investment in our businesses.\" The bank\'s branch networks in its key markets of China, India and Africa would expand in the coming months, with the opening of its 100th outlets in China and India by early next year. In Africa, Sands said the bank was \"significantly stepping up the pace of network expansion\", with 250 branches expected in the next two years from the present 183 in 14 markets. Standard Chartered, which survived the global financial crisis without state assistance, has a strong footprint across emerging markets. Its 2011 net profit rose 12 percent year-on-year to a record 3.53 billion euros ($4.75 billion), boosted by strong performance in developing economies.