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Economy - Development

Lome based African Commercial Bank gets boost from ECP

afrol News, 7 October - A minory stake investment into Lome-based Financial BC SA by Emerging Capital Partners(ECP), could spin around bank's futunes in its expansion plans.

ECP, an international private equity firm focused on investing across African continent, today announced a purchase of a minority stake in Togo-based regional commercial bank.

According to statement issued by bank today, ECP's initial US $28 million (euro 17.8 million) investment - made in the form of common shares and convertible notes - will help the bank expand its presence throughout central and western Africa and will assist FBC in making changes to its corporate structure.

FBC primarily engages in consumer and institutional banking in Benin, Togo, Gabon, Chad and Guinea. It has also started expansion into microfinance sector, providing small loans to low-income populations through its three affiliates. FBC is further said to be planning to continue broadening its customer base by tapping into large corporate lending sector as well as offering non-lending related products and services such as ATMs, remittances and money transfers.

"ECP is continuing to see strong growth and substantial banking reform across Africa, which makes regional players like FBC attractive targets for investment," said Tom Gibian, chief executive officer of ECP. "We believe FBC is well positioned in francophone Africa to capitalise on these trends through its strong leadership and commitment to high quality customer service."

Currently, financial penetration rates in central and western Africa are estimated to be only about 8 percent, which defines a large opportunity for banks like FBC as real GDP continues to grow between 3 and 6 percent a year. Banking reforms and increased economic integration across the region are also said to have presented significant opportunity for growth.

Founded in 1988 by current chairman Remy Baysset, FBC employs more than 440 employees, operates approximately 20 branches, serves more than 11,000 clients, and has a total asset base of over US $350 million (euro 1.45 million).

"ECP has long seen tremendous potential in African financial services and believes that FBC can further tap into a large reserve of underserved markets," said Vincent le Guennou, executive vice president of ECP. "We are looking forward to working with the bank to increase efficiency of its organisational structure and to further enhance its implementation of international best practices."

Investment in FCB is ECP's eighth in African financial services sector. The firm continues to hold stakes in six other financial services companies: Blue Financial Services, a non-deposit taking micro lender serving 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa; BACIM Bank, seventh largest banking group in Mauritania; Continental Reinsurance plc, Nigeria's reinsurance company; African Financial Holdings, banking group with eight subsidiaries across Africa operating under Bank of Africa brand name; Intercontinental Bank plc, one of banking groups in Nigeria; and Generale Assurance Mediterraneenne, a life and non-life insurance company in Algeria.

Emerging Capital Partners (ECP) is the first private equity firm to raise more than $1.5 billion to invest in companies across African continent, with a track record of pan-African investing in past eight years.

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