Rule us out of bids for Keystone, Mainstreat and Enterprise banks – Ecobank

By The Rainbow

Pan-African financial institution, Ecobank Transnational Inc. (ETI),  has ruled itself out of  any further acquisitions in Nigeria.

Ecobank has hitherto been linked with bids for  Mainstreet Bank, Keystone Bank or Enterprise Bank, put up for sale by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

The Chairman of the bank, Mr Kolapo Lawson, said at the company's Annual General Meeting held in Togo, that the pan-African conglomerate would rather develop itself.

''We are not buying new ones (banks). We can grow the one we have. It is very challenging integrating new acquisitions'', he said.

This decision contradicts what industry observers had predicted as ETI's market share was boosted when it acquired Oceanic Bank. The bank went from top 10 to the 6th position as at the end of 2012 financial year.

At the meeting, the chairman said returns increased by 46 percent. He said the company's revenue grew from $1.196 billion in 2011 to $1.751 billion in 2012 and profit after tax increased to $207 million to $287 million, while total equity rose by 49 percent.

Assuring stakeholders, Group CEO of the bank, Mr. Thierry Tanoh said that the company's strategy would ensure that they build on this success and continue the progress.

He also highlighted that the 2012 results were the strongest in Ecobank's 25 years of operation.

Meanwhile, shareholders of the bank have  shareholders have given approval the board the nod to change Ecobank’s article of association to ensure that the bank is not taken over by any institution or dominated by one country.

The company's sterling financial performance over the years has seen many institutions move in to acquire a stake in the bank.

Some of the institutions that have so far taken up a substantial holding in Ecobank include: NEDBANK and Public Investment Corporation both from South Africa as well as the private sector arm of the World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC).

But speaking to Joy Business in Lome, Group Chief Executive, Henry Tanoh says the move is only to protect the bank’s African identity.

Mr. Tonoh however disagrees with arguments that the bank's share price has in recent times recorded its worst performance since going public in 2009. Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI)'s profits for last year went up by 25 percent to hit 348 million dollars.

The bank as a result of this performance declared a dividend of 4 cents for every share held. But most of the shareholders at the meeting wanted more.