Congo Republic Lender Backed by China's AgBank Plans to Expand

(Bloomberg) -- A Republic of Congo bank backed by China’s third-largest lender is planning to expand across central Africa as it prepares for a capital injection from its major shareholders.

Banque Sino-Congolaise pour L’Afrique, known as BSCA, on April 10 opened a 15-floor headquarters in Congo’s capital, Brazzaville, three years after starting operations in the country. Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. owns 50 percent of the lender, which has two branches in Pointe Noire and another in Brazzaville. The offices were built by China State Construction Engineering Corp. at a cost of 30 billion CFA francs ($56 million).

“The plan is to open branches all over the country and within the six countries of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community,” Patrick Obamby, deputy general manager of BSCA, said in a phone interview, referring to a grouping that also includes Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad and Equatorial Guinea. “The funding of the bank comes mainly from China.”

BSCA’s expansion comes as shareholders plan to boost the bank’s capital to 70 billion CFA francs by the end of the year from 50 billion francs now, he said.

Banks in the oil-rich country have struggled after debt levels more than tripled since 2010 and the nation missed a Eurobond payment. It’s in the midst of an anti-corruption drive to try to meet conditions set by the International Monetary Fund for a bailout. This month it asked the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to accept it as a member.

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