Pan-African banking group Ecobank Transnational Inc is considering cross listing its shares on the stock exchanges of the EAC, a move that could spread the bank’s ownership in the region and help EAC shareholders to easily trade their shares.
Addressing journalists in Nairobi last week shortly after the Annual General Meeting (AGM), Lawson Kolapo Ecobank’s Chairman said EAC shareholders were concerned about how to trade their shares. It’s the first time the Bank’s AGM was held in an East Africa country.
Without divulging into details, Kolapo said that the bank was looking for “critical masses”, liquidity or frequent trading in order to float its shares on any stock exchange.
The EAC has four stock exchanges which include, the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE), Uganda Securities Exchange (USE), Dar es Slaam Stock Exchange (DSE) or the Rwanda Over-The-Counter (OTC) bourse. Burundi is yet to establish one.
“We shall cross list on any stock exchange as long as there is an opportunity...,” he said.
Ecobank, which is listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange, the Ghana Stock Exchange and the BRVM in Abidjan, reported a 38 percent drop in its pretax profit for the year ending December 31, 2009.
The Bank posted $101m (Rwf58.5b) in profit before tax in 2009 compared to $162.3m (Rwf94b) in 2008. Its net earnings fell by 42 percent to $64m (Rwf37.4b) from $111.1m (Rwf64.3b) in 2008.
“This was after absorbing losses from the new subsidiaries which are not yet profitable,” Kolapo said.
The group’s consolidated total assets grew by 8 percent to $9b in the period under review due “organic growth” and the opening up of subsidiaries in Uganda, Gabon, Zambia and international finance and capital markets operations in Paris, France.
According to the audited financial statements, revenues registered a modest growth of 6 percent to $873m, held back by severe depreciation in its major operating currencies relative to the US$. The loan book grew by 27 percent to $4.7 billion as non performing loans fell by a one percentage point from 17 percent.
“This growth was in spite of the negative effects of the currency depreciation in our major markets,” Kolapo said.
Ecobank has operations in 30 African countries with a branch network of 746 branches across the continent.