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Qatar National Bank increases stake in African lender Ecobank

Posted by Business in Ghana on September 18, 2014

By William Wallis in London (Financial Times)

Qatar National Bank has become the dominant shareholder in pan­African lender Ecobank Transnational after increasing its stake to 23.5 per cent in a sign of growing Gulf appetite for African assets.

The Gulf’s largest lender said in a statement it had raised its stake in Ecobank after spending $283m to buy an additional 11 per cent share in the lender on Monday.

The Qatari bank earlier this month bought a 12.5 per cent stake in the bank worth about $220m from Nigeria’s Asset Management Corporation, the vehicle set up by the Central Bank of Nigeria to absorb non­performing loans in the wake of a 2009 banking crash.

Some Ecobank shareholders were unnerved by the Qatari buying spree, which they fear could dilute the bank’s African character while putting other large shareholders whose capital is restricted in a disadvantageous position.

South Africa’s Public Investment Corporation, PIC, was hitherto the bank’s leading shareholder but its capital is restricted by a 20 percent cap. QNB’s unexpected acquisitions could disrupt the plans of South Africa’s Nedbank, which has had a strategic partnership with Ecobank since 2008 and has options this year to convert debt of $285m and buy equity also capped at 20 per cent. Read the rest of this entry »

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