Shareholders of Ecobank, the Pan African bank, on Friday approved a special resolution authorizing the Board to raise 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. Existing shareholders have equal opportunity to participate in the public share offer.

Board Chairman Mande Sidibe told a press conference at the end of the meeting that investors, both on the African continent as well as abroad have a unique opportunity to participate in the offer of a growing company.

“There will be no geographical restriction on the offer but it is our hope that Africans mobilize to take a majority stake of the offer,” Mr Sidibe said and insisted that the question of a hostile takeover did not arise.

“It is good to diversify but in every way we will try to maintain the regional and independence of the group,” he said, adding that as a regional company the maximum must come from Africa.

Shareholders also approve a further sub-division of the company’s shares to improve the liquidity of the shares and make it more accessible to the generality of the African population.

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 up from 86.3 million dollars in 2006.

Mr Sidibe said the company would, this year build and consolidate the various initiatives it had started.

“We will maintain our strategy to build scale, grow the group and improve operating efficiency in order to deliver superior shareholder value. We will maintain our strategy of diversification whilst also concentrating on the core businesses, and we will seek to improve our ability to better service and add value to our customers,” he said.

Mr Arnold Ekpe, Group Chief Executive Officer, 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.

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.

Source: GNA

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