Ecobank Plans to Hire Investment Bank Head to Tap African Growth

Ecobank Transnational Inc. is seeking a new investment banking chief as Africa’s most geographically diverse lender hires people across the continent to tap growth.

Ecobank’s corporate and investment bank arm has almost 600 staff in 33 African countries plus Paris and London, Albert Essien, the Lome, Togo-based bank’s deputy group chief executive officer, said in a June 28 interview in Johannesburg.

“We’ve been building the team and we’re now a commercial bank with an investment arm, like Standard Bank,” Essien said. “We’re also building a transaction services team.”

Ecobank merged its corporate and investment banking businesses last year as it vies with Barclays Plc, Citigroup Inc. and Standard Bank Group Ltd., the continent’s biggest lender, for opportunities arising from African growth rates that outstrip those of developed economies. The bank, which has more than 9.6 million African customers, is also looking for partnerships with insurers to widen its product range and help build a presence in asset and wealth management, Essien said.

Growth can in part be funded from cash flow after the bank maintained its earnings momentum in the second quarter, after first-quarter profit rose 26 percent, said Essien.

While Ecobank is concentrating on organic growth, a Kenyan acquisition is possible, said Essien. The bank is waiting for approval for full banking licenses in Mozambique and Angola and is about to open its first branch in South Sudan, he said. Ecobank also plans a representative office in Ethiopia.

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