UPDATE 1-Africa's Ecobank signs $50 mln loan deal with France's Proparco
* Ecobank operates in 35 African countries
* Targets customers without bank accounts
* Says loan will fund regional expansion (Adds share price, background)
LAGOS, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Africa's Ecobank said on Monday it had signed a $50 million loan agreement for 10 years with French development institution Proparco, to support the growth of its local banking network.
Ecobank, which operates in 35 African countries, said in a statement that the loan would fund regional expansion, including targeting customers on the continent who do not yet have bank accounts.
"Pan-African banking groups ... are entering new market segments, targeting those previously excluded from the banking system," it said.
Ecobank has been touted as a model success story in pan-African banking due to its strong growth and aggressive expansion strategy across the continent, which has made it attractive to foreign investors seeking Africa exposure spanning several countries south of the Sahara.
But the bank has suffered bitter disagreements in the boardroom over allegations of corporate governance issues in the past few months. The disputes led Nigeria's securities regulator to investigate complaints, and the results of the inquiry are still pending.
Shares in Ecobank have risen 33 percent so far this year and have not been seriously dented by its recent troubles. The firm gained 0.73 percent to hit 15.44 naira per share at the close on Monday. The broader Nigerian all-share index closed up 0.32 percent. (Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Tim Cocks and Pravin Char)