Sunday, July 4, 2010

World Bank lends $175 mln to Africa's Ecobank

The World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC) has lent $175 million to pan-African banking group Ecobank Transnational to boost the financial sector in several countries.

In a statement obtained on Friday, the IFC said providing cash to a "regionally systemic financial institution" would increase lending to small and medium-sized businesses in some of the world's poorest countries.

Ecobank has the most extensive network of any independent African bank, operating branches from Ghana to Zambia, but saw profits fall last year due to an aggressive expansion push into 30 countries across the continent of a billion people.

Chief executive Arnold Ekpe told Reuters last month that new branches should start making money this year, making 2010 results "substantially better" than 2009.

Ekpe also said Togo-incorporated Ecobank would raise $500 million this year in Tier 2 capital, in the second phase of a plan to raise $3 billion in new capital since 2008.

Ecobank raised $778 million last year through an initial public offering and by other means. It has stopped its geographical expansion after opening in Tanzania this year.

Ecobank is listed in Lagos and Accra and on the West African regional bourse.