September 15, 2014 / 1:16 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 2-Qatar National Bank lifts Ecobank stake in $283 mln deal

(Updates with Ecobank comment)

By David French and Chijioke Ohuocha

DUBAI/LAGOS, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Qatar National Bank (QNB) has acquired a further 11 percent stake in Ecobank Transnational Incorporated in a deal worth $283 million, making it the pan-African lender’s largest shareholder.

The purchase is a rapid escalation to 23.5 percent of QNB’s total holdings in one of the most prominent banks in sub-Saharan Africa, but an Ecobank spokesman said that it would not lead to a takeover bid and QNB’s stake would be reduced later this year.

QNB said that it acquired 2.048 billion ordinary shares using its existing resources to raise its stake.

“This enables QNB Group to become the largest shareholder whilst strengthening the partnership with Ecobank,” QNB said in a statement, adding that it was advised on the deal by its own investment banking arm and Morgan Stanley.

Monday’s purchase comes after QNB acquired a 12.5 percent stake in Ecobank from Nigerian “bad bank” Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) this month.

QNB has said it wants to become the largest bank in the Middle East and Africa by 2017. At the moment it is the second-biggest by assets, behind South Africa’s Standard Bank .

The investment in Ecobank is the Qatari lender’s second African purchase in the past two years, having bought Societe Generale’s Egyptian business for $2 billion in March last year.

Ecobank has often been touted as a pan-African success story because of its strong growth, aggressive expansion strategy and wide continental footprint.

Those factors that have made it attractive to foreign investors, though its image was tarnished this year by a long-running governance scandal that resulted in the firing of its chief executive, Thierry Tanoh.

Ecobank spokesman Richard Uku welcomed QNB’s increase in its stake but reiterated that the bank has a 20 percent limit for institutional investors set by the board.

The conversion of a loan from South Africa’s Nedbank to shares in Ecobank later this year would bring QNB’s stake down to that limit, he said. (Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by David Goodman)

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