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Absa Group targets expansion into African growth markets including Ethiopia

Absa Group Ltd. is considering expansion into growth markets such as Ethiopia, Nigeria, Angola and Egypt, Reuters reported March 11.

A host of foreign banks are eyeing investment in Ethiopia as reforms and a growing privatization push suggest that the Ethiopian government could ease its grip on the banking sector.

"We're not in Ethiopia at all, so those would be the type of markets we'd look at over time," citing Jason Quinn, the bank's group finance director.

South Africa's third-largest lender by assets would likely consider acquisitions for expansion since it would be hard to start a retail banking business from the ground up, Quinn said, while also identifying potential for corporate and investment banking in Nigeria.

Absa, formerly Barclays Africa, reported profit attributable to ordinary equity holders that was largely flat, with the 2018 full-year number coming in at 13.92 billion South African rand, from a restated 13.89 billion rand in 2017.

Local lenders are looking for growth opportunities in Africa, as a troubled home economy curtails growth potential, the report said.

South Africa entered a recession in the second quarter of 2018, which it exited in the following quarter, though concerns about structural weaknesses in the economy linger.

As of March 11, US$1 was equivalent to 14.37 South African rand.