The odds
on a fresh wave of consolidation among the Nigerian banking sector
have shortened markedly following comments from the recently
appointed central bank governor, Lamido Sanusi, the former CEO of
First Nigeria Bank, who told reporters he was prepared to relax the
rules relating to foreign ownership of the country’s banks.

initial consolidation programme launched five years ago cut the
number of financial institutions in Nigeria to 25 firms from 89,
but a second wave of deals has long been anticipated, fuelled by
the ongoing global banking crisis.

2004, the only banking merger of note in the country has been South
African-based Standard’s purchase of Nigeria’s IBTC Chartered in
August 2007, subsequently merged with Standard’s Stanbic Bank
subsidiary to form Stanbic IBTC.

According to Sanusi, the current 24 banks might be reduced in
number to around 15.