Nigeria’s largest lender by market value will open units in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda as it seeks to expand in East Africa, Chief Executive Officer Segun Agbaje said.
The bank will “acquire lenders that are not that large, but profitable in those countries in the short term,” he said in a conference call from Lagos, the commercial capital.
Guaranty Trust Bank, which is currently operating in six countries outside Nigeria, is targeting the East African nations owing to their “appreciable gross domestic product, growing investments and ease of doing business,” Agbaje said.
Nigeria is sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest economy after South Africa. The country’s lenders are returning to profitability after Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Lamido Sanusi bailed out banks with N620 billion ($3.9 billion) as loans to equity speculators and fuel importers pushed the industry near collapse.
The government then created the Asset Management Corp. of Nigeria to buy bad debts from the country’s lenders.