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Ecobank May Seek Licenses in Portuguese-Speaking African Nations

Ecobank Transnational Inc., the most geographically diverse lender in Africa, said it will probably seek banking licenses in two more Portuguese-speaking countries on the continent next year.

“What we’re trying to do is really to strengthen our network in lusophone countries,” Chief Executive Officer Thierry Tanoh said in an interview yesterday in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s commercial capital. He didn’t give further details.

Ecobank, which trades on three African exchanges and operates in 35 nations on the continent, already has operations in Portuguese-speaking Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau and Sao Tome and Principe. The Lome, Togo-based bank doesn’t operate in Mozambique and only has a representative office in Angola, another former Portuguese colony in Africa.

Ecobank plans to “continue to expand organically,” particularly in East Africa, said Tanoh, who is attending the African Securities Exchanges Association conference in Abidjan.

“We need to reinforce some of our affiliates with more resources,” he said. “East Africa is an area where more resources are needed.”

Ecobank reported in October that profit increased 65 percent to $250 million in the nine months through September as its businesses in Nigeria and Ghana expanded. Chairman Kolapo Lawson plans to step down on Dec. 31 amid allegations of fraud that are being investigated by Nigeria’s capital markets regulator.

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