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First Bank of Nigeria Rises to 6-Month High on Bets: Lagos Mover

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Feb. 21 (Bloomberg) -- First Bank of Nigeria Plc, the country’s third-biggest lender by market value, rose to the highest in six months as investors bet it would pay dividends for 2011, with the bank’s results expected as soon as next week.

The stock climbed for a sixth day, rising 4 percent to 11.37 naira by the 2:30 p.m. close in Lagos, the highest since Aug. 18. That takes its gain this year to 28 percent, compared with a 1.2 percent decline in the Nigerian Stock Exchange All-Share Index over the same period.

“Investors are taking position on the stock in anticipation of getting dividends from the bank,” Raheem Mohammed, chief operating officer of Lagos-based brokerage Kundila Finance, said by phone today. “This is virtually the end of February and the result is expected any moment from now.”

Earnings at Nigerian lenders are rising after the west African nation’s central bank fired eight chief executives of the country’s 24 lenders and set up a state-owned company to buy bad debts amassed in 2008 and 2009 and triggered by loans to equity speculators. The central bank introduced a December common year-end for the country’s lenders and 2011 results are expected from the end of February.

Third-quarter net income rose 32 percent to 42.9 billion naira ($273 million), First Bank said in a statement to the Nigerian Stock Exchange on Oct. 13.

To contact the reporter on this story: Vincent Nwanma in Lagos at vnwanma@bloomberg.net

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

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