The acquisition of Ghana’s International Commercial Bank (ICB) by Nigeria’s First Bank could as well be a statement of strength and will to conquer Nigeria’s bank market that cuts across the country’s 150 plus million population, the largest in the African continent. Reliable sources revealed to Bizrika that due diligence for the takeover was completed in January early this year but the bank is yet to change to its newly acquired name.
The International Commercial Bank whose initial name was ICB International Group Holdings has been sponsoring small and medium sized businesses in Africa and is among a group which comprises of 12 branches in Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa. It commenced its business in Africa in the year 1996 when its first branch was established in Accra, Ghana. Today the bank is operating in 9 countries in Africa including Guinea, Ghana, Djibouti, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania, Zambia and Sudan.
ICB Bank’s management is said to have decided to sell their business to First Bank on the basis that the buyer’s business in Nigeria and elsewhere has been consistently successful. It was rated the best performing bank in the past two years and the best retail bank last year (2012).
First Bank started its business operations in Nigeria in 1894 before extending its business to Ghana in 1896. Two years later, the bank opened another branch in Freetown, Sierra Leon. A second Nigerian branch was opened in 1900 which later led to its extension to the northern parts of the country.
Currently the bank operates a total of 349 branches in Nigeria with a wide clientele including corporate and retail.