Ecobank Says QNB’s Stake to Boost North African Prospects

Ecobank Transnational Inc. said the purchase by Qatar National Bank SAQ of a 23.5 percent stake will help the Togo-based lender’s potential access to north African markets.

“This is a great asset and a good support as it opens for us horizons in North Africa and in countries in the circle of influence of QNB,” as the Doha-based bank is known, said Richard Uku, a spokesman for Ecobank, by phone yesterday from Lome, Togo’s capital.

QNB, the Middle East’s biggest lender by market value, bought an 11 percent stake in Ecobank for $283 million on Sept. 15 to become its top shareholder. This followed the purchase of 12.5 percent stake valued at about $230 million on Sept. 4.

Consolidation in the African banking market is increasing as firms including former Barclays Plc Chief Executive Officer Robert Diamond’s Atlas Mara Co-Nvest Ltd. scout for deals.

It is too early to say whether Ecobank will open agencies in northern African countries, Uku said. The bank’s strategy remains focused on sub-Saharan Africa.

Nedbank Group Ltd., the South African lender controlled by Old Mutual Plc, formed an alliance with Ecobank in 2008 and has the option until Nov. 25 of gaining a 20 percent stake that would give it access to bank customers in more than 30 African countries.

“Our partnership will not negatively affect our relationship with Nedbank,” Uku said. “We are comfortable with these two partnerships.” Johannesburg-based Nedbank said Sept. 9 it remains committed to its alliance with Ecobank.

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