JOHANNESBURG, March 17 Two of Malawi's smallest
banks, New Finance Bank (NFB) and Opportunity Bank, will merge
to meet the central bank's capital requirements, the lenders
said on Friday.
Banks in the southern African nation are jostling with each
other for market share and with telecommunications firms
offering mobile money transfers, in a country where less than a
fifth of the population have bank accounts.
In a joint statement, the two banks said that the Reserve
Bank of Malawi (RBM) had approved the merger and that it would
take effect in six weeks.
"The shareholders of the merged bank intend to increase
capital and grow operations," said chairman and chief executive
Francis Pelekamoyo, a former central bank governor.
Opportunity is a unit of micro-lender Opportunity
International, while NFB has Finance Bank Zambia as a
The merger reduces the number of licensed banks in Malawi to
nine, including National Bank of Malawi and Standard Bank
, a unit of Africa’s largest bank by assets.
(Reporting by Frank Phiri; Editing by Hugh Lawson)