Qatar National Bank (QNB) has announced the raising of its Ecobank stake to 23.5%, just weeks after disclosing its first share acquisition deal, in a transaction worth a further $283m.
QNB had previously acquired a 12.5% stake in the Lagos-listed bank through a combination of ordinary shares and convertible preference shares in a deal thought to be worth $223m.
In a significant escalation of QNB’s move on the pan-African lender, the Qatari interest is now largest shareholder, ahead of the stake that South Africa’s Nedbank will be acquiring through the conversion of a $283m loan, topped up with $206m, into Ecobank shares.
Already the largest bank in the Middle East, QNB is quickly making good on its pledge to go beyond that to also become the largest bank in the Middle East and Africa by 2017 – an asset ranking that QNB is only second to behind African leviathan Standard Bank.
Ecobank is viewed as a pan-African success on account of its strong growth, aggressive expansion strategy and wide footprint – an attractive image to foreign investors despite a governance scandal that resulted in the departure of CEO Thierry Tanoh earlier this year.
QNB added that it acquired the 2.048 billion ordinary shares using existing resources.
Albert Essien, Ecobank CEO, meanwhile reassured shareholders that QNB would not be pursuing a takeover bid and that its stake would be reduced by the deal with Nedbank this year to 20% – a limit set by the board after a failed takeover by Russia’s Renaissance Capital.
“This could be very complementary to Nedbank. QNB is from the Gulf. Nedbank is from the south. It could help the institution to grow stronger,” Essien told the Financial Times.
Ecobank subsequently advanced 2.6% on the Lagos bourse to its highest price since 2010.