First Bank of Nigeria Wants to Enter 11 African Countries

First Bank of Nigeria, the third-largest bank by market value in the West African nation, is looking for opportunities to enter 11 other countries in Africa, said Chief Executive Officer Bisi Onasanya.

“Essentially we’re looking at West Africa, Francophone and Anglophone countries,” Onasanya said in an interview today at the World Economic Forum in Cape Town. “We will never do greenfields and it has to be in line with our retail banking strategy,” he said, declining to name the countries.

First Bank won’t undertake expansion that hurts its plan to “dominate” in its home market, Onasanya said. The 119-year-old lender, which has more than 700 branches in Africa and 7 million customers, said yesterday that it plans to sell a $500 million euro bond this year to fund loans and help the bank expand.

“A listing elsewhere is part of the medium-term to long-term strategy,” Onasanya said, adding that he met with representatives of Johannesburg’s stock exchange yesterday. The bank may make one or two acquisitions this year, he said.

FBN Holdings Plc, owner of First Bank, has gained 27 percent this year in Lagos trading, beating the 22 percent increase in the Nigerian SE Banking Index, which tracks the country’s 10 biggest banks.

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