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Diamond Bank to add 80 branches in Nigeria by 2012



Tuesday November 1, 2011 5:05pm


LAGOS Nov 1 (Reuters) - Nigeria's Diamond Bank plans to grow its business network in Afria's most populous nation to 300 branches from 220 by the end of next year as it focuses on retail banking, its chief executive said on Tuesday.


Alex Otti, who took over the helm at the mid-tier lender in April, told a conference call that the focus for the bank in the medium term was to grow organically but that it remained open to acquisitions as the opportunity arose.


"We intend to grow to 300 locations in Nigeria by the next financial year," Otti said, adding that the lender also intends to gradually expand its operations in other West African countries.


Diamond operates outside Nigeria in mainly Franco-phone West Africa and has 17 branches in Benin Republic. It set up new subsidiaries in Cote D'Ivoire, Togo and Senegal at the end of the third quarter, he said.


Shares in the lender fell 2.58 percent to 3.40 naira at the end of trading on Tuesday, underperforming the the main share index , which was down 1.88 percent.


Otti said that Diamond had indicated interest to state-owned "bad bank" AMCON - set up last year to help recapitalise nine banks bailed out by central bank in 2009 - in acquiring one of the three lenders that were nationalised in August.


But he said management was not distracted by that and would concentrate on organic growth for the moment. AMCON had said in September it intends to run the nationalised lenders for at least 2-3 years before looking for buyers.


Last Friday, Daimond Bank posted a pretax loss of 425.47 million nigerian naira ($2.7 million) in the nine months to September, due to higher loan loss provisioning, compared with 7 billion naira pretax profit in the same period last year.


($1 = 157.750 Nigerian Nairas)     



Source: Reuters (Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha)

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