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FirstRand’s FBZ Purchase Probed by Zambian Antitrust Body

Zambia’s Competition Commission plans to investigate the acquisition of Finance Bank Zambia Ltd. by South Africa’s FirstRand Ltd.

FirstRand’s Zambian unit First National Bank bought the Zambian lender for 27 billion kwacha ($5.5 million) on Sept. 12, according to Zambia’s central bank, which had seized control of Finance Bank last year for breaching financial laws.

“Now that the Bank of Zambia has found a buyer, we will have to look at what kind of competition FirstRand, through First National Bank, may bring about on the Zambian banking sector,” Chilufya Sampa, chief executive officer of the antitrust authority, said by phone today from the capital, Lusaka.

The regulator has 90 days to carry out the investigation, Sampa said, adding that the size of FirstRand’s existing business in Zambia means that “I don’t see any problem with them getting the approval.”

First National will add 39 branches with the acquisition, which will make it the country’s fifth-largest bank, Central Bank Governor Caleb Fundanga said this week.

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