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South African investors eye Nigeria market

Worried by the current Euro zone crisis in Europe, South African investors are increasing their investment drive and tapping into the vast Nigerian market, according to the private BusinessDay newspaper.

The latest investment from South Africa is the recent purchase of US$335 million stake in MTN Nigeria by Shanduka Group, the investment holdings group controlled by businessman and chairman of the mobile phone group MTN.

The newspaper Thursday quoted some analysts as saying the latest move by the firm is an indication of the scramble among South African investors for the Nigerian market, amid the European crisis.

They also said it is an opportunity for the investors to increase their intra-Africa investment drive.

“The intra-Africa investment drive is a strategic effort underlined by their competitive advantage,” Mr. Bismarck Rewane, the Chief Executive Officer of the Lagos based Financial Derivatives, a financial management company, was quoted as saying.

According to the newspaper, Rand Merchant Bank, South Africa’s second-largest financial company, last week got a licence to operate as a merchant bank in Nigeria.

The minimum capital base for merchant banks is US$15 billion naira (US$1=157 Naira).

In September, Tiger Brands, another South African company in the foods business, bought 63 percent of Dangote Flour Plc.

Nigeria’s population of about 160 million, Africa’s largest, provides a great market for any investors to tap into, analysts say.

Meanwhile, the latest move by the Shanduka Group Ltd has whittled down the Nigerian ownership of MTN Nigeria to about 18 percent.

MTN Nigeria, with over 45.6 million subscribers and an estimated market share of 48 percent, is the largest subsidiary of the MTN Group, Africa’s largest mobile network operator, and contributes about 30 percent of MTN group’s earnings.

Shanduka Group stake makes it the third largest shareholder in MTN Nigeria.

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