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Ecobank Signs Agreement to Acquire Nigerian Bailed-Out Lender Oceanic Bank

Ecobank Transnational Inc. (ETI), the Togolese lender that operates in more than 30 African countries, agreed to buy Oceanic Bank International Plc (OCEANIC), a Lagos-based lender bailed out by Nigeria’s central bank in 2009.

The agreement “represents an important milestone in the process of the recapitalization of the bank,” Oceanic CEO John Aboh said in a statement. The combination will create one of Nigeria’s top three banks, according to Aboh.

Oceanic is one of eight Nigerian banks whose top executives were fired by the central bank in 2009 over a debt crisis, partly caused by loans to stock market speculators. The regulator bailed out the lenders with 620 billion naira ($4 billion) and has given them until Sept. 30 to recapitalize or risk having their assets sold.

The Central Bank of Nigeria has given approval for the transaction under which Oceanic Bank shareholders will receive Ecobank shares, Aboh said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Emele Onu in Lagos at eonu1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dulue Mbachu at dmbachu@bloomberg.net

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