West Africa: banks lead Nigerian charge.

Position:Africa's Top 200 companies - Statistical table
 
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The past year has seen massive growth for the leading companies in West Africa--or perhaps that should be Nigeria, given the country's continued domination of our table.

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As last year, Nigerian firms comprise 44 out of the top 50 firms in the region by market capitalisation, while Ghanaian companies fill three spots, those from Cote d'Ivoire two and just Sonatel from Senegal.

Given the problems of other countries in the region, it is perhaps not surprising that no other nationalities are represented, but annual growth in Nigerian firms certainly is remarkable.

Continuing the trend from last year, Nigerian banks have further entrenched their domination in West Africa. The highly successful process of banking sector reform, merger and consolidation that was implemented by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) produced a much stronger, leaner industry that propelled Nigerian financial institutions to the top of our table last year.

The leading banks have made the most of increased confidence in the Nigerian banking sector and have expanded much more rapidly over the past 12 months.

First Bank Nigeria remains the largest company in West Africa but it has had to fight off some very stiff competition to do so. Its market capitalisation in this year's table stands at $7.4bn, up from just $2.6bn last year.

Intercontinental Bank comes next with $6.2bn, a long way ahead of United Bank for Africa with $4.6bn, massive rises from the $1bn and $1.3bn respectively that they recorded last year.

The second biggest firm in West Africa last year, Nigerian Breweries, has grown almost 50% to $3bn over the past 12 months but has been swamped by the rising tide of Nigerian banks and so its ranking has now fallen to tenth. Out of the 28 West African companies with market capitalisation of more than $1bn, 18 are Nigerian banks.

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There is obviously a huge amount of money washing around inside Nigeria because of the vast oil and gas revenues that have been accrued over many decades.

Considerable amounts of this money have been invested overseas in the past but the perceived investment opportunities that have been created by the banking reforms appear to have enticed much of this money to return home and into local banks.

However, little of the oil sector is controlled by companies registered in Nigeria, so African Petroleum is the highest ranked of the six listed oil and gas companies, at 21st. As a result, Nigerian banks now...

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