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Thu 4 Sep 2014 04:08 PM

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Qatar's QNB says buying 12.5% stake in Ecobank

Qatar National Bank announces plan to take minority interest in pan-African lender

Qatar's QNB says buying 12.5% stake in Ecobank

Qatar National Bank (QNB), the Gulf's largest bank, said on Thursday it was buying a 12.5 percent stake in pan-African lender Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (Ecobank).

No value for the transaction was given in QNB's statement, which stated that the 12.5 percent stake would consist of current outstanding ordinary shares and the conversion of QNB's convertible preference shares.

Based on Ecobank's share price at midday on Thursday, QNB's stake would be worth around 36.25 billion naira ($223.4 million), according to Reuters calculations.

The transaction would make QNB the second-largest shareholder in Ecobank after South Africa's state-owned Public Investment Corporation Ltd, according to Thomson Reuters data.

QNB has said it wants to become the largest bank in the Middle East and Africa by 2017 - it is currently second in terms of assets, behind South Africa's Standard Bank.

The bank's chief financial officer, Ramzi Mari, told Reuters in February it was looking for acquisition targets inTurkey, Morocco and sub-Saharan Africa to help achieve that goal.

It is the second acquisition which the Qatari lender has made in the last two years in Africa: in March 2013, it completed the purchase of Societe Generale's Egyptian business for $2 billion.

For Lagos-listed Ecobank, the new cash will help to boost its capital reserves at a time when lenders in Africa's biggest economy are enhancing levels to adapt to new international capital requirements.

Ecobank expects its capital adequacy ratio to hit 18.7 percent of assets by year-end, after all the debt conversions to equity, up from 17.5 percent in the first six months of the year, CEO Albert Essien said. The minimum capital adequacy ratio in Nigeria is 16 percent.

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