14 October 2011

Nigeria: First Bank Expands, Acquires Congolese Bank

First Bank of Nigeria Plc said Thursday that it had acquired Banque International de Credit (BIC) - one of the leading banks in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The bank also disclosed that the acquisition, which had been approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), was in line with its strategy, which includes international expansion aimed at increasing its footprint across Africa.

A statement from the bank explained that the bank's expansion plans were expected to deliver benefits such as greater earnings diversification and increased shareholder value through higher returns on equity.

It also stressed that by establishing presence in carefully selected African countries, the bank expected to improve its ability to effectively serve an increasingly international profile of corporate and institutional customers.

Commenting on the transaction, First Bank's Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Bisi Onasanya said: "We are excited to welcome BIC into the First Bank family and are pleased to launch our Sub Saharan Africa expansion with this particular transaction. This acquisition is indicative of our belief in the potential of the DRC even as we have been attracted by the highly profitable and excellently run franchise of BIC.

"We look forward to strengthening ties with the DRC and other Sub Saharan African countries as we continue to extend the First Bank footprint across the continent. Although we are keen to increase our profile across Sub Saharan Africa, we will continue to be guided by the overall objective of achieving excellent returns on investment for our millions of shareholders. We will continue to deploy capital efficiently and profitably, remaining a leader in every market we choose to operate."

On his part, the Chief Executive Officer, BIC, Louis-Odilon Alaguillaume, was also quoted to have said: "This is an important transaction for BIC and we look forward to continuing to grow BIC with the support of First Bank as our parent company."

Meanwhile, the unaudited group results of First Bank for the nine months ended 30 September 2011, released yesterday showed that its total assets climbed by 18 per cent to N2.9 trillion in the period under review, compared with the N2.4 trillion attained in September 2010.

The bank's gross earnings also increased to N211.2 billion as at September, reflecting an increase by 19 per cent over the N177.1 billion it stood as at September last year.

The results revealed that First Bank's profit before also improved to N49 billion, up 20 per cent, as against the prior year value of N40.7 billion, just as its profit after tax grew by 32 per cent to N42.2 billion, compared with the N32.6 billion it was as at September 2010.

While its customer deposits also increased significantly to N2 trillion as at September this year, from N1.6 trillion last year, its net loans and advances also rose toN1.3 trillion, from N1.1trillion as at September 2010.

On the financial results, Onasanya said: "In conditions which presented both opportunities and challenges, First Bank turned in very satisfying results, signifying the robustness and resilience of our business model. Furthermore we have begun to see very encouraging results from the change in our operating structure from a geographic to a customer segmented approach, which emphasises specialisation across all business segments."

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