Ecobank, the Pan African bank, says it will explore its diversified presence and local knowledge and expertise to build a world class bank focused on the continent.

Speaking at the Facts Behind the Figures Programme and Non-Deal Road Show in Accra on Tuesday, Mr. Arnold Ekpe, Chief Executive Officer of the Ecobank Group, said the bank presence in Europe and the Far East did not represent a shift in its African focus.

Ecobank plans to open offices in Paris, Dubai, Beijing and London. “Our aim of venturing into those cities is to provide services to African businessmen and other investors willing to do business on the continent.

“In reality, ours is not an African strategy but what we have is Africa Strategy,” he told the brokers and journalists at the programme organised by the Ghana Stock Exchange to enable Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, the parent company of the group, to explain their performance.

Mr Ekpe said the Bank remained focused on its strategy of delivering growth through its retail banking outlets, attaining efficiency by reducing cost and maximising returns to enhance shareholders value.

Total Assets of the Ecobank group grew by 87 per cent to 6.6 billion dollars last year compared to 3.5 billion dollars in 2006.

Similarly, profit after tax increased by 61 per cent to 139 million dollars from 86.3 million dollars in 2006.

Mr Ekpe said the company’s performance was fuelled by significant growth in branch network to 450 and commitment to extend distribution network through new countries, branches, alliances, kiosks and direct sales agents in order to bring banking closer to the people.

To meet the future expansion needs of the group, Mr Ekpe said shareholders approved the raising of an additional capital of three billion dollars for operations over the next three years.

The amount will be used to meet the minimum capital requirements of subsidiaries, fund specialized banking operations, expand its reach on the continent and beyond as well as invest in technology.

Forty per cent of the shares will be allotted to existing shareholders through a rights issue and the remaining 60 per cent floated to the general public.

Mr Ekpe said once the regulatory approval had been obtained the necessary details on the offer would be given out.

Ecobank is listed on the Bourse Regionale des Valeurs Mobilieres of Abidjan, the Ghana Stock Exchange and the Nigerian Stock Exchange and has operations in 22 African countries.

The Bank is also undertaking a share split of its 1.35 billion shares, giving shareholders five for each share held.

“It is our hope that the share split will engender more active trading in the shares through improved liquidity and making it accessible to the generality of the African investors,” Mr Ekpe said.

Source: GNA