Diamond Bank exits West Africa operations

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Diamond Bank has announced plans to terminate its West African operations following the sale of its units in Benin Republic, Togo and Cote d‘Ivoire to an Ivorien-based financial services company Manzi Finances S.A. for the sum of 61 million euros.

A statement by the bank, last Friday, said it expects the deal to close this year.

Diamond Bank which explained that the move is informed by the need to consolidate its domestic presence, added further that it is ‘quitting other West African markets to focus efforts at home and deploy its resources on personal banking business in Africa’s biggest economy.

The move by Diamond Bank ends the mid-tier lender’s 18-year push abroad.

“After 18 years of building the Diamond Bank franchise in other markets in West Africa, the time has come to fully apply our resources to Nigeria,” said Diamond Bank Chief Executive Uzoma Dozie in the statement.

Dozie disclosed that Diamond Bank wanted to apply its resource to Nigeria to develop a profitable technology-driven retail banking business.

Diamond Bank posted a 71.5 percent rise in nine-month pretax profit to 6.67 billion naira in September.

Several Nigerian lenders have adapted their business models after low crude prices put pressure on the once lucrative oil and gas loan book. Nigeria exited recession in the second quarter but growth is fragile.

Dozie further said Nigeria’s unbanked population and the rise of cost-effective digital banking platforms provided it with the opportunity to reach millions of customers in a market where it already had over 15 million clients.

Diamond shares, which have risen 15 percent so far this year, climbed 5 percent on Friday to 1.06 naira. They had fallen 62 percent last year.

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