Local lender Nedbank was in the final stages of acquiring a majority stake in Mozambican Banco Unico, chief operating officer Mfundo Nkuhlu said yesterday.
Nedbank already owns 38.3 percent interest in the Maputo-based bank and recently expressed its intention to be a controlling shareholder this year.
Nkuhlu said Nedbank had gone through the necessary approval processes with its own board and the SA Reserve Bank. He said the transaction awaited approval from the Mozambique side.
“We are in the last steps of that process,” Nkuhlu said on the sidelines of the ongoing World Economic Forum on Africa in Kigali, Rwanda.
With economic growth slowing down in South Africa, Nedbank and its peers are looking to the rest of Africa for growth opportunities. Nedbank plans to have a footprint in about 10 African countries, including Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Kenya.
Nkuhlu said Nedbank wanted to consolidate its presence in east Africa and southern Africa. “That is our home base,” he said. “If you want to be a major player, you have to deploy capital.”
He said the bank was encouraged that, contrary to the slow economic growth in South Africa, growth prospects in other African countries were better.
Nkuhlu said sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, was expected to grow by an average 3 percent, while the average growth in east Africa was 5 percent.
“There are pockets of growth in Africa,” he said.
While Nedbank’s growth in southern and east Africa has been through its own operations, its foray into central and east Africa has been via pan-African banking conglomerate Ecobank, in which Nedbank has a 20 percent interest.
Nedbank has had an alliance with the Togo-based bank since 2008.
Nkuhlu said Nedbank had no intention to increase its interest in Ecobank beyond the current 20 percent. “We are happy with the current share at Ecobank. It allows us the necessary equity access.” Source: IOL