Equity eyes Ethiopia in continental expansion

(EBC; April 1, 2019) - Regional lender Equity Bank is looking for investment opportunities in Ethiopia as part of its push to become a Pan-African bank.

Chief executive James Mwangi told The EastAfrican that the lender with a market capitalization of $1.32 billion has restarted its continental expansion plan, which it shelved in 2016, with the focus now on the Horn of Africa, where it hopes to acquire an existing bank.

Mr Mwangi said Equity is keen on economic reforms in Ethiopia as it searches for opportunities for an acquisition as an entry plan.

“We are focused on Ethiopia because that market could possibility open in 2020 or 2021. The entry strategy is through acquisition given that it is a big market. In big markets, you enter by acquisition,” Mr Mwangi said.

Equity’s interest in Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous nation with more than 100 million people, is informed by a wave of reforms that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has put in place to open up an economy that has, for long, been under state control.

Ethiopia has 18 licensed commercial banks, of which Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and Development Bank of Ethiopia are state-owned.