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Nigeria’s Wema Bank Raising 35 Billion Naira for Expansion

Nigerian lender Wema Bank Plc is raising 35 billion naira ($219 million) to fund expansion from a regional to a national bank, said Kemi Aina, spokeswoman for the lender.

“We are already raising the money through a private placement that commenced last year and hope to conclude the exercise by April,” she said today by phone from Lagos, the commercial capital. “The money is needed to approach the central bank for a national banking licence.”

The Central Bank of Nigeria introduced modified licensing rules as part of reforms after a debt crisis in 2009 brought the industry to the verge of collapse. Lenders in Nigeria are either licensed as holding companies operating local and international units or as national and regional banks.

Wema Bank became a regional lender in 2011, complying with the central bank’s capital requirement of 10 billion naira and operating in six to 12 of the country’s 36 states. A minimum capital of 25 billion naira is required for a national bank.

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