Standard Bank shows interest in Nigeria bank

South Africa’s Standard Bank has expressed an interest in buying one of the nine Nigerian banks rescued by the West African country’s central bank last year, the head of Standard’s Nigerian unit said on Thursday.

Nigeria’s central bank asked for potential bidders to register their interest in the troubled banks by mid-December to test the appetite for acquisitions as the regulator looks to reshape Nigeria’s banking landscape.

The regulator has not published the names of the interested parties.

“I can confirm that we registered interest with the central bank to buy one of the Nigerian banks,” said Chris Newson, CEO of Stanbic IBTC, a subsidiary of Standard Bank.

“We think there is more opportunity in Nigeria and so we are exploring either organic or acquisitive growth,” he added.

Standard Bank joins South Africa’s FirstRand as the only other foreign company to publicly disclose its interest in buying troubled Nigerian banks. Nigeria’s Fidelity Bank said in November it was also a potential bidder.

Nigeria’s central bank has injected about 600-billion naira into the banking system since mid-August, after its auditors found nine institutions had built up bad loans that left them too weakly capitalised to sustain their operations.

It injected 400-billion naira into Afribank, Finbank, Intercontinental Bank, Oceanic Bank and Union Bank on August 14 and sacked their top management after the first round of the audit.

Two months later it said it was providing 200-billion naira to four more banks—Bank PHB, Equitorial Trust Bank, Spring Bank and Wema Bank—also judged to be facing a grave liquidity crisis.

The regulator has said the businesses will be run as going concerns until new investors can be found to recapitalise them and that its preferred option is for them to be bought out.—Reuters

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