Qatar National Bank (QNB) has acquired a 12.5% stake in pan-African lender Ecobank Transnational Incorporated.

QNB purchased the shares from Nigeria’s Nigeria’s state-owned Asset Management Corporation, the vehicle set up by the Central Bank of Nigeria to absorb non-performing loans in the wake of a 2009 banking crash.

The purchase is part of QNB’s strategy to become the largest bank in the Middle East and Africa by 2017. Presently, it is second in terms of assets to South Africa’s Standard Bank.

The deal would make QNB the second-largest shareholder in Ecobank after South Africa’s state-owned Public Investment Corporation, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Togo-based Ecobank was set up in 1985 and presence in 36 countries across the African continent and in four other countries across the globe.

It is one of the top three banks by assets in 14 of the countries in which Ecobank is present.

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By GlobalData

As at June 2014, Ecobank had $23.4bn of assets and had generated $255m of profit before tax for the six months to 30 June 2014.