Namibia wants banks to sell stake to locals

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Windhoek - Commercial banks in Namibia may have to sell 25 percent of their equity to local investors by 2025 and should consider trading their shares on the stock exchange, Finance Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said.

“We are looking at a threshold of 25 percent by 2025 and we are now making it a licensing condition to compel banks to have local shareholding,” Kuugongelwa-Amadhila told reporters in the capital, Windhoek.

Some lenders “have committed to sell a 40 percent shareholding” within the next four years, she said without naming them.

The government is implementing a series of changes in the financial industry, including the regulation of credit bureaus, to broaden services and products.

South African lenders Standard Bank, FirstRand unit First National Bank, Nedbank and Bank Windhoek are the country’s biggest lenders.

“It’s an ongoing process and we think there is some movement,” Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said.

“We surely can improve the pace but we are happy we have started the process.”

Commercial banks must also scrap cash deposit fees for individual clients by March 2015.

“Cash deposit fees will remain a chargeable item for big businesses and corporate accounts,” Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said.

The central bank this year licensed EBank Namibia and has provisionally granted licenses to Angola’s Banco Privado Atlantico Europa and Letshego Bank Namibia to start commercial operations.

“For new banks entering the sector now, it’s now a requirement that locals retain a greater proportion of the shareholding,” Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said. - Bloomberg News

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