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Report: Nigerian lender drops plan to acquire nationalized rival

The CFO of Sterling Bank Plc said the Nigerian bank has abandonedits plans to buy nationalized Keystone Bank Ltd. and is looking for other targets,Reuters reported July 19.

Abubakar Suleiman told the newswire that the bank ended thetalks after concluding that Keystone Bank was not a "strong enough"strategic fit, but that it remains committed to its strategic of acquiring a local rivaland will "evaluate all the options," including new candidates as theycome into the market.

He added that the bank would first examine the impact of the30% fall in the value of the Nigerian naira in June, when the country's centralbank abandoned its 16-month-old peg of 197 naira to $1 in a bid to resolve thecountry's chronic dollar shortage.

Meanwhile, Suleiman said Sterling Bank has completed bookbuilding for a 35 billion naira bond sale, but will begin by raising 20% of thatamount after it receives regulatory approval to measure the market's appetite,the newswire reported.

"Once we see that the structure is acceptable andyields are moderate, we will complete series one this year," Suleiman toldReuters. "If the market remains turbulent, we will do it next year."

As of July 19, US$1was equivalent to 293.25 Nigerian naira.