(Corrects day of the week in paragraph 1 to Wednesday)
DURBAN, South Africa May 3 Ecobank
plans to close branches and cut jobs as the pan-African lender
steps up investments in digital platforms, its chief executive
said on Wednesday.
Ecobank's operations in nearly 40 countries across
sub-Saharan Africa are exposed to some economies that have been
pressured by the slide in commodity prices and unfavourable
The bank, which counts South Africa's Nedbank and
Qatar National Bank as shareholders, suffered a hefty $131
million pre-tax loss in 2016.
Speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of the World Economic
Forum for Africa in Durban, Chief Executive Officer Ade Ayeyemi
said the bank's plans to expand its mobile platforms would help
"This means reducing our branch network, using technology to
deliver to customers and processing transactions centrally,"
said Ayeyemi. "We believe that this business model can deliver
profitability to our shareholders."
The bank reported a pre-tax profit of $75 million in the
first quarter of 2017 though that was still down 17 percent from
a year earlier due to high bad loan provisions.
Ayeyemi, a former Citigroup executive in Africa who took
over at Ecobank in 2015, said the expansion into online
platforms would lead to lay offs. The bank employs more than
Ayeyemi also said a recovery in oil prices in 2017, which
would result in higher import revenues for African economies
dependent on crude sales, was a positive for the bank.
Nigeria accounts for 40 percent of Ecobank's revenues and is
in its second year of recession, as lower oil prices caused
chronic dollar shortages that hurt businesses and households.
(Reporting by Mfunko Toyana; editing by Tiisetso Motsoeneng and