FirstRand in bid to acquire troubled Nigerian bank

SHOWING INTEREST: Sizwe Nxasana. Pic: Robert Botha.27/02/2007. © Business Day
SHOWING INTEREST: Sizwe Nxasana. Pic: Robert Botha.27/02/2007. © Business Day

FIRSTRAND has expressed interest in buying one of the nine Nigerian banks rescued by the West African country's central bank last year, the company's new managing director said yesterday .

FIRSTRAND has expressed interest in buying one of the nine Nigerian banks rescued by the West African country's central bank last year, the company's new managing director said yesterday .

Nigeria's central bank asked for potential bidders to register their interest in the troubled banks by mid-December to test the appetite for acquisitions as the regulator looks to reshape Nigeria's bankinglandscape.

The regulator has not published the names of interested parties.

"We did register interest in that process. I'm not able to mention (which bank), but we certainly registered our interest," FirstRand's managing director Sizwe Nxasana said on the sidelines of an economic conference.

FirstRand, South Africa's second-largest banking group, is the first foreign bank to confirm it is interested in buying one of the troubled banks. Nigeria's Fidelity Bank said in November it was also a potential bidder.

Nxasana, who took over the reins of FirstRand in December, said FirstRand was looking to invest "meaningful amounts of capital" and fund any deal from its internal reserves.

"We are looking at opportunities, especially given the reforms taking place driven by the Central Bank of Nigeria," he said.

Nigeria's central bank has injected about 600billion naira ($4 billion) into the banking system since mid-August, after its auditors found nine institutions had built up bad loans that left them too weakly capitalised to sustain their operations. - Reuters

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