Magazine article African Business

Bold Initiative

Magazine article African Business

Bold Initiative

Article excerpt

One bank in Nigeria which is very different from others is Ecobank Nigeria plc, a member of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI). Established in 1985, with headquarters in Lomb, Togo, Ecobank is a private regional commercial bank owned by 1,200 individuals and institutions with operations in West Africa, a sub-region with a total population of 200m and a GDP of approximately $70bn.

The asset base of the entire group is about $600m; it is expected to hit $800m in the next one-and-a-half years. 1997 profit after tax was approximately $15m.

The bank currently operates in Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria; it plans to open up offices in three other countries next year. Oladisun Holloway, managing director of Ecobank Nigeria plc told African Business that the bank will be chartered in the whole of West Africa by the year 2000. Mr Holloway was trained in the US. After business school, he worked with Mobil Oil and Colgate Palmolive before he came back to Nigeria. He then worked for International Merchant Bank before joining Ecobank.

Ecobank's regional spread, its asset base, the composition of its various owners, the quality of management, and its mission to integrate the West African market, puts the group at a clear advantage. "We can do what other banks cannot do," said Mr Holloway. For instance, a customer with an Ecobank cheque can cash it in any of the branches in the other countries, in the currency of that country."

The products of Ecobank are nothing unusual: current account, short term loans, deposit accounts, trade finance, savings accounts and foreign exchange. "We looked at what our customers want. They want these basic services," said Mr Holloway. "We are coming up with a specialised unit that will be headed by a gentleman who is currently a deputy managing director in Ghana. …

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