South African bank, Absa, has put on hold plans to expand its operations to Nigeria, the interim Chief Executive, Jason Quinn, said on Monday.
Nigerian expanion has been one of thge bank’s African ambitions, with the former Chief Executive, Maria Ramos, planning to double the group’s market share in Africa with this strategy.
Quinn told Reuters that the COVID-19 pandemic, among other things, had disrupted the plans.
He said that shortly after the bank announced about 14-fold rise in half-year profit, it intends to concentrate on its current business lines.
“As I look at it now, I’d rather we focus on capturing the opportunity that we currently preside over, as opposed to looking for new ones,” he said.
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Absa has previously said it would look to enter other markets like Ethiopia and Egypt in its bid to become a “truly pan-African bank”.
It has now combined its South African operations with those elsewhere on the continent, which Quinn said he hoped would lead to a pick-up in units that have lagged.
A hefty drop in bad debt charges helped drive the boom in Absa’s headline earnings per share (HEPS), which rose to 984.6 cents ($0.6685) in the six months to June 30 from 67.7 cents a year earlier.
Its interim HEPS, the main profit measure in South Africa, were also 7 percent higher than in 2019. Quinn said the results showed the bank’s strategic decisions were largely the right ones.