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Ecobank to develop trade corridors between West, Eastern and Central Africa

Babajide Komolafe
Ecobank Transnational is set to leverage on its presence in 32 African countries to develop trade coridors within the West, East and Central African sub regions.

Also, the company will soon open offices in Europe, China and South Africa in a bid to extend its reach to other parts of the world.

Managing Director/Chief Executive, Ecobank Nigeria PLC, Mr. Jibril Aku disclosed this in Lagos.  He said that Ecobank is the only bank with the potential to foster financial integration in the West African sub-region, giving its network of banks across the sub-region.

He said the bank group through its network has been helping businesses facilitate transactions and growth across the sub-region and  in doing this observed strong trade links in West Africa.

He said the Group intends to carry forward this experience to develop trade corridors within the Western, Eastern and Central African regions leveraging on its increasing strong presence in Eastern and Central African regions.

He said that the Group is already making in-roads into South Africa, and has formed an alliance with Nedbank of South Africa. One of the benefits of the alliance is that customers of the bank can now use their payment card to obtain rand in South Africa through the network of Nedbank’s ATMs.

He said the expansion of the Ecobank group is driven by the need to bridge finance gaps for African businesses irrespective of where they are located in on the continent, adding that the group’s 32 banks are strategically located in way to help businesses conduct transactions across the continent.

He said in order to help African businesses make in-roads into Europe and China the group would soon open representative offices in France and Europe while its South African office has been completed.

Aku said that in apart from its extensive presence across the continent, the Group has developed competencies and products which are available in all its subsidiary banks. He said an example of this is the Rapid Transfer funds product, which enables transfer of funds across Africa  through any of the Ecobank affiliates banks.

He further disclosed that Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) has increased its shareholding in Ecobank Nigeria as a result of the share placement by the bank.

While explaining the rationale for this, he said, “ The shareholders had in the past approved that the Board be authorised to raise money through public offering, Rights, bonds and any combination of raising funds but for the market meltdown the idea was aborted last year .

But since the Bank needed additional money to boost operations and ETI had already deposited money for shares worth N46 billion the Bank had no other option than to allocate some shares to ETI at N7.00 per share after receiving approval from the appropriate authorities.

We told the NSE to give us two years to see if the stock market will recover from depression in which investors will have confidence in the market so as to enable the Bank reduce the stake of ETI and gives opportunity to other minority shareholders to invest in the Bank as there is a provision that limit the volume of equity to be controlled by an investor in any bank.”
Ecobank boss said the bank is optimistic that it would continue to record growth as its first quarter results show a Profit After Tax (PAT) of N1.071 billion, an indication that Ecobank has completely come out of the red after the full provisioning.
Meanwhile, Aku stated that the Bank is still in the process of recovering some debts as its full year results ended December 2009 showed slight improvement, with a loss after tax of N4.5 billion from a loss of N8.9billion in the third quarter. Gross earnings rose by 8.54 per cent to N59.86 billion


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