Standard Bank targets acquisitions in Nigeria

Standard Bank Group Ltd., Africa’s largest bank, said it may make more acquisitions in Nigeria if there is consolidation in its banking industry.

“If the right opportunity arises and there’s a further round of consolidation, which we think there will be, we have people on the ground,” Ben Kruger, group deputy chief executive officer at Standard Bank, said at a briefing in Johannesburg today. “For us it remains an absolutely key country.”

Last year the world’s biggest bank, Beijing-based Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, bought a 20 percent stake in Standard Bank for 36.7 billion rand ($4.52 billion). The South African lender used that capital to expand in Africa, China, Brazil and Russia as rivals faltered during the global financial crisis.

Another potential part of Standard Bank’s African expansion is the acquisition of Ghana’s Agricultural Development Bank. Clive Tasker, CEO of Standard Bank Africa, said the lender has expressed its ongoing interest in ADB. After Ghana’s “successful” elections in December, Tasker said the new government is waiting for the “dust to settle” before embarking on privatization plans.

In Russia, the Johannesburg-based lender is in the process of buying a 33 percent stake in Moscow’s largest independent investment bank, Troika Dialog. Jacko Maree, CEO of Standard Bank, said he is “sure we will be able to increase the shareholding” because many of Troika’s shareholders are individuals rather than institutions. He added that the lender has started working on business links with Russia and China.

In South Africa, the retail banks, including Johannesburg- based Absa Group Ltd., have become stricter with their lending criteria as the country’s first recession in 17 years pushed up the number of bad loans. Maree said there is no general view at his bank that it should be “dramatically loosening” its lending criteria.

Standard Bank gained 0.6 percent to 96 rand in Johannesburg. It is the best performing stock on the five-member FTSE/JSE Africa Banks Index this year, having risen 16 percent.

Source: Bloomberg

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