Ecobank Projects Flat Loan Growth on Slowing African Economies

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Pan-African lender Ecobank has said it expects flat loan growth and revenue this year.

The commercial bank has adopted a cautious strategy to lending and expects to gradually reduce the foreign currency portion of its loan book, Chief Executive Ade Ayeyemi told an analyst call. Loans declined by nine per cent last year.

According to Reuters, Ecobank expects flat revenue this year, compared with a decline of eight per cent to $2.1 billion in 2015. First-quarter revenue dropped six per cent to $502 million.

Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy, is reeling from a fall in the price of crude oil, it main export, which has battered its currency, government revenue and weakened the economy. Inflation rose to its highest in nearly four years to 12.8 per cent in March.

The bank said that adverse currency movements and regulatory requirements hit margins, while slower economic growth hurt revenue generation.

Ecobank said that Nigeria, which makes up 40 per cent of its business, accounted for more than half of its non-performing loans in the first quarter.