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West Africa: banks lead Nigerian charge.

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 figure much more prominently in our table of the biggest companies in the whole of the African continent. While First Bank of Nigeria ranked just 46th in Africa last year, it has now jumped up to 20th position and a total of 16 Nigerian companies figure in the top 100, which is a more accurate reflection of the West African state's importance to the continent in terms of economic activity and population.

Cross-border expansion

The overwhelming domination of Nigerian corporations in our table is also a reflection of market size. While Sonatel and Standard Chartered Bank Ghana are huge economic entities in their own respective markets, the limited size of those markets restricts the room for commercial growth. Nigeria is a massive market of more than 140m people, so companies in Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire and Senegal must look to cross-border expansion if they are to challenge the Nigerian giants in terms of size.

Regional integration would certainly provide the best option but there is little sign of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) instituting the kind of deep-seated economic reforms that would bring this about.

In addition, the cultural, legal, tax and regulatory differences between anglophone and francophone states make it difficult for companies with a francophone heritage to challenge Nigerian firms in their own backyard. However, the absence of any Nigerian telecoms companies in our survey means that there is still room for growth in that booming sector. In fact the only telecoms company in the top 50 is Senegal's Sonatel.

The firm is currently 43% owned by France Telecom and there appears to be a realistic possibility that it could be taken over outright by the French company. At the end of February, the government of Senegal announced that it could withdraw its capital from Sonatel, provoking some concern for its future among Senegalese trade unions.

While most telecoms companies have been developed on a national basis even where they are wholly or partly owned by major international operators, it will be interesting to see whether companies such as France Telecom or Vodacom seek to bring their various brands under a single regional umbrella in the near future.

If still registered in Africa, such a process could propel a number of telecoms companies into the West African top 50 companies.
WEST AFRICA

Rank Overall Company_Name2 Country

 1 24 First Bank Nigeria Nigeria
 2 28 Intercontinental Bank Nigeria
 3 34 United Bank for Africa Nigeria
 4 36 Zenith Bank International Nigeria
 5 40 Union Bank Nigeria Nigeria
 6 41 Guaranty Trust Bank Nigeria
 7 42 Sonatel Cote d'Ivoire
 8 48 Oceanic Bank Nigeria
 9 54 Dangote Sugar Refinery Nigeria
10 57 Nigerian Breweries Nigeria
11 62 Bank PHB Nigeria Nigeria
12 73 Diamond Bank Nigeria
13 81 IBTC-Chartered Bank Nigeria
14 86 West Africa Portland Cement Nigeria
15 97 First City Monument Bank Nigeria
16 102 Guinness Nigeria Nigeria
17 105 Afribank Nigeria Nigeria
18 108 Nestle Nigeria Nigeria
19 114 Ecobank Nigeria Nigeria
20 116 Access Bank Nigeria Nigeria
21 125 African Petroleum Nigeria
22 126 Wema Bank Nigeria
23 136 Benue Cement Company Nigeria
24 138 Fidelity Bank Nigeria Nigeria
25 151 Unity Bank Nigeria
26 152 Skye Bank Nigeria
27 154 Flour Mills Nigeria Nigeria
28 179 Oando Nigeria
29 183 Ashaka Cement Nigeria
30 192 PZ Industries Nigeria
31 193 Unilever Nigeria Nigeria
32 196 Societe de Limonaderies et Cote d'Ivoire
 Brasseries -- SOLIBRA
33 - First Inland Bank Nigeria
34 - Nigerian Bottling Company Nigeria
35 - Transnational Corporation Nigeria Nigeria
36 - UAC Nigeria Nigeria
37 - Springbank Nigeria
38 - Sterling Bank Limited Nigeria
39 - Total Nigeria Nigeria
40 - Standard Chartered Bank Ghana Ghana
41 - Union Homes Savings and Loans Nigeria
42 - Mobil Oil Nigeria Nigeria
43 - Chevron Oil Nigeria Nigeria
44 - Cadbury Nigeria Nigeria
45 - Continental Reinsurance Nigeria
46 - Ecobank Ghana Limited Ghana
47 - Conoil Plc Nigeria
48 - Societe Africaine de Plantations Cote d'Ivoire
 d'Heveas
49 - UACN Property Development Nigeria
50 - Julius Berger Nigeria Nigeria

Rank Company_Name2 Industry

 1 First Bank Nigeria Banks and Financial Services
 2 Intercontinental Bank Banks and Financial Services
 3 United Bank for Africa Banks and Financial Services
 4 Zenith Bank International Banks and Financial Services
 5 Union Bank Nigeria Banks and Financial Services
 6 Guaranty Trust Bank Banks and Financial Services
 7 Sonatel Telecom
 8 Oceanic Bank Banks and Financial Services
 9 Dangote Sugar Refinery Consumer Goods--Food and
 Beverages
10 Nigerian Breweries Consumer Goods--Food and
 Beverages
11 Bank PHB Nigeria Banks and Financial Services
12 Diamond Bank Banks and Financial Services
13 IBTC-Chartered Bank Banks and Financial Services
14 West Africa Portland Cement Construction and Materials
15 First City Monument Bank Banks and Financial Services
16 Guinness Nigeria Consumer Goods--Food and
 Beverages
17 Afribank Nigeria Banks and Financial Services
18 Nestle Nigeria Consumer Goods--Food and
 Beverages
19 Ecobank Nigeria Banks and Financial Services
20 Access Bank Nigeria Banks and Financial Services
21 African Petroleum Oil and Gas
22 Wema Bank Banks and Financial Services
23 Benue Cement Company Construction and Materials
24 Fidelity Bank Nigeria Banks and Financial Services
25 Unity Bank Banks and Financial Services
26 Skye Bank Banks and Financial Services
27 Flour Mills Nigeria Consumer Goods--Food and
 Beverages
28 Oando Oil and Gas
29 Ashaka Cement Construction and Materials
30 PZ Industries Diversified Conglomerates
31 Unilever Nigeria Consumer Goods--Food and
 Beverages
32 Societe de Limonaderies et Consumer Goods--Food and
 Brasseries -- SOLIBRA Beverages
33 First Inland Bank Banks and Financial Services
34 Nigerian Bottling Company Consumer Goods--Food and
 Beverages
35 Transnational Corporation Nigeria Diversified Conglomerates
36 UAC Nigeria Diversified Conglomerates
37 Springbank Banks and Financial Services
38 Sterling Bank Limited Banks and Financial Services
39 Total Nigeria Oil and Gas
40 Standard Chartered Bank Ghana Banks and Financial Services
41 Union Homes Savings and Loans Financial Services (Excluding
 Banks)
42 Mobil Oil Nigeria Oil and Gas
43 Chevron Oil Nigeria Oil and Gas
44 Cadbury Nigeria Consumer Goods--Food and
 Beverages
45 Continental Reinsurance Insurance
46 Ecobank Ghana Limited Banks and Financial Services
47 Conoil Plc Oil and Gas
48 Societe Africaine de Plantations Agriculture and raw materials
 d'Heveas
49 UACN Property Development Real Estate
50 Julius Berger Nigeria Construction and Materials

 Market Value Dollar
Rank Company_Name2 ($m)

 1 First Bank Nigeria 7,408
 2 Intercontinental Bank 6,269
 3 United Bank for Africa 4,656
 4 Zenith Bank International 4,447
 5 Union Bank Nigeria 4,010
 6 Guaranty Trust Bank 3,996
 7 Sonatel 3,927
 8 Oceanic Bank 3,627
 9 Dangote Sugar Refinery 3,245
10 Nigerian Breweries 3,087
11 Bank PHB Nigeria 2,915
12 Diamond Bank 2,118
13 IBTC-Chartered Bank 1,932
14 West Africa Portland Cement 1,869
15 First City Monument Bank 1,659
16 Guinness Nigeria 1,597
17 Afribank Nigeria 1,557
18 Nestle Nigeria 1,523
19 Ecobank Nigeria 1,434
20 Access Bank Nigeria 1,391
21 African Petroleum 1,285
22 Wema Bank 1,278
23 Benue Cement Company 1,183
24 Fidelity Bank Nigeria 1,163
25 Unity Bank 1,080
26 Skye Bank 1,074
27 Flour Mills Nigeria 1,069
28 Oando 770
29 Ashaka Cement 755
30 PZ Industries 701
31 Unilever Nigeria 689
32 Societe de Limonaderies et 682
 Brasseries -- SOLIBRA
33 First Inland Bank 630
34 Nigerian Bottling Company 619
35 Transnational Corporation Nigeria 561
36 UAC Nigeria 541
37 Springbank 527
38 Sterling Bank Limited 523
39 Total Nigeria 509
40 Standard Chartered Bank Ghana 413
41 Union Homes Savings and Loans 377
42 Mobil Oil Nigeria 360
43 Chevron Oil Nigeria 339
44 Cadbury Nigeria 338
45 Continental Reinsurance 334
46 Ecobank Ghana Limited 324
47 Conoil Plc 289
48 Societe Africaine de Plantations 262
 d'Heveas
49 UACN Property Development 214
50 Julius Berger Nigeria 212
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Title Annotation:Africa's Top 200 companies
Comment:West Africa: banks lead Nigerian charge.(Africa's Top 200 companies)
Publication:African Business
Article Type:Statistical table
Geographic Code:6NIGR
Date:Apr 1, 2008
Words:1707
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