FirstRand Seeks Banks in Africa; May Return Excess Capital to Shareholders

FirstRand Ltd., South Africa’s second-biggest financial-services company, said it plans to expand in Nigeria, Tanzania, Angola, Ghana and Kenya through acquisitions and internal growth.

The lender is adopting an “progressively aggressive strategy” in Africa and once it has successfully entered those five priority countries, it may explore expanding in Zimbabwe, Uganda, the Ivory Coast, Senegal, Cameroon and Congo, Chief Executive Officer Sizwe Nxasana said in a presentation in Johannesburg today.

FirstRand will continue to allocate capital to its businesses that meet required returns, while any excess may be distributed to investors, he said.

The company already has operations in Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zambia. FirstRand plans to expand its investment-banking, retail and insurance offerings across a continent that has more than 1 billion people. To pick up Asian trade flows as companies target Africa’s resources, it has set up an office in India and signed a working agreement with China Construction Bank Corp.

FirstRand has received approval from the South African central bank to open trade-finance and investment-banking businesses in Kenya and plans to start operations in Tanzania next year, Nxasana said.

FirstRand gained 35 cents, or 1.7 percent, to 20.64 rand as of 12:23 p.m. in Johannesburg trading. The company is the second-best performing banking stock on the five-member FTSE/JSE Africa Banks Index this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Renee Bonorchis in Johannesburg at rbonorchis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net

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