September 13, 2007 / 3:35 PM / 10 years ago

Hey, big boy! Any interest?

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigerian banks must stop using attractive women to persuade customers to open accounts, Senate President David Mark was quoted as saying in Thursday's newspapers.

Mark said that despite a consolidation of the sector in 2005 that reduced the number of banks to 25 from 89 and was supposed to make them more efficient, many banks still used women to attract new business.

"Banks have made it a policy to employ beautiful ladies and give them targets to meet," Mark said during the inauguration of the new Senate committee on banking and insurance Wednesday.

"This is unacceptable and must stop. You ordered the consolidation, so I think you must do something to stop it," he said, addressing officials of the central bank.

"We thought that with the consolidation in the banking sector, the banks will have enough money and capacity to get customers. Why is it that all these girls are now moving around hustling as if they are looking for something other than money?"

The consolidation, triggered by the central bank's decision to raise the minimum capital base for banks twelvefold, has been hailed by the Nigerian government as one of the major successes of a broader program of economic reforms.

Banking stocks have boomed on the Lagos stock market since the consolidation, but analysts say many of the banks remain weak because they are reliant on deposits from government agencies and do little retail business.

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