Jan. 12 (Bloomberg) — FirstRand Ltd., South Africaâ€™s second-biggest financial-services company, said it plans to start a division in Nigeria that will include commercial and retail units.
â€œThere are 150 million people and 10 million with bank accounts,â€ Chief Executive Officer Sizwe Nxasana said about the West African country to CNBC Africa in an interview today. Mobile money transfers, investment-banking products and debt and equity capital markets products will also suit the Nigerian environment, he said.
Nxasana, 52, made Johannesburg-based FirstRandâ€™s African expansion plans clear in June last year, days after he was picked to be the first black CEO at one of South Africaâ€™s five largest lenders. Standard Bank Group Ltd. has also said itâ€™s looking for assets in Nigeria after that countryâ€™s banking crisis, which started in August last year, left 10 lenders close to bankruptcy.
â€œWeâ€™re talking to a number of people in Nigeria to get a much deeper understanding of the environment,â€ Nxasana said, without elaborating.
Guaranty Trust Bank Plc is the top stock pick among Nigerian banks, said John Storey, an analyst at Bank of America- Merrill Lynch, in a note to investors last month.
â€œWe see Guaranty Bank as the best-in-class bank within Nigeria that provides exposure to upside surprises to the oil and macro-economic story,â€ he said. â€œZenith, United Bank for Africa, Guaranty and FirstBank are the four largest banks in Nigeria by market capitalization and appear well-placed to gain market share in a consolidated sector.â€