Sterling Bank may acquire Keystone Bank

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Sterling Bank Plc is planning to buy one or two mid-sized commercial lenders before the end of the year.

Investigations showed that the lender is seriously eyeing Keystone Bank Limited the last of the three bridged lenders bought by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

Sterling Bank an insider source said, is also considering buying another mid-tier lender with strong presence in the northern part of the country.

The targeted bank has been grappling with low liquidity in recent months due to sharp falls in the value of the naira, crude oil prices and increased regulatory pressure.

Sterling Bank Chief Finance Officer, Abubakar Suleiman, told Reuters that these factors are forcing banks to recapitalise.

He said his bank expected a further 20 per cent devaluation in the naira, eroding capital ratios for several of its rivals exposed to foreign currency assets and potentially triggering mergers.

Sterling Bank CEO, Yemi Adeola, disclosed late last year that six commercial banks are likely to seek mergers and acquisitions this year.

The mergers, he said, are triggered by the shock created in their assets and balance sheet sizes in the face of declining oil prices.

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