Zenith Bank, a Nigerian tier-1 bank, wants to expand to France as it looks beyond Africa.
Zenith Bank, one of Nigeria’s largest banks with ₦13.38 trillion in customer deposits, wants to expand to France, joining the likes of First Bank, UBA and Access Bank which are expanding to other continents. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc, disclosed at the Chartered Institute of Bankers annual dinner held on Friday evening at Eko Hotels, in Lagos.
“This afternoon, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government of France to signal the commencement of the issuance of a banking licence to Zenith to commence operations in France,” Onyeagwu said, beaming with a smile. The Zenith Bank CEO was light on the details about when the approvals and regulation of the France subsidiary will be completed.
Zenith Bank’s playbook is thus similar to Access Bank’s move to expand into Asia early in 2024, as previously reported by TechCabal. The regulatory approval, if granted, would enable the bank to serve customers in the region that is the largest non-African trading partner. A move like this would be synonymous with South Africa’s Standard Bank Group and TymeBank expansion into Asia, bolstering Access Bank’s assets under management, currently at $26.5 billion.
Zenith Bank currently has subsidiaries in The Gambia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, the United Kingdom, UAE, and China with its parent company in Nigeria. Its external goal is to encourage cross-border marketing and position the bank as a leader in commercial and retail segments. Its lending business across its subsidiaries is directed towards international and export trade transactions. Earlier this year, the bank signed an MoU with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), committing $1 million to the SMARTAfCFTA portal, an initiative of the bank to digitalise trade. Zenith Bank’s unaudited third-quarter financial results rose 149% to ₦505 billion.