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Access Bank of Nigeria to Cut Stake in Zambia Unit to 49%

Access Bank Plc, Nigeria’s fourth-biggest lender by market value, will cut to 49 percent its stake in its Zambian unit after the southern African country raised capital requirements, Chief Executive Officer Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede said.

Access will cut its stake from 87 percent and convert the unit to a local lender, Aig-Imoukhuede said on a conference call today.

“We plan to convert to a local bank,” he said, without saying who they will sell to. Segun Fafore, the lender’s Lagos-based spokesman, didn’t answer a call made to his mobile phone today.

Zambia raised the minimum capital requirement for international banks to $100 million from $2.5 million and to $20 million for local banks in January. Nigerian lender United Bank for Africa Plc said in July it would also seek a local license.

Banks in the West African nation must obtain new funds to recapitalize their foreign units and won’t be allowed to use money already raised by their parent companies, the Central Bank of Nigeria said in a statement on July 26.

Lenders that can’t raise additional capital for foreign subsidiaries in the local market will have to close the units, the Abuja-based regulator said.

Access Bank’s shares gained for a seventh day, adding 4.1 percent to 9.10 naira by the close today in Lagos, the highest since March 2011.

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