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BGFI Bank of Gabon expands to Dakar.

Gabonese lender BGFI Bank SA, which operates in 10 countries, plans to open in Senegal in June after winning a banking license in the West African nation.

"Senegal authorities have a strategic plan to make the country an emerging nation, and we want to make our contribution to the development of its companies and basic infrastructure," BGFI Chief Executive Officer Henri-Claude Oyima said Tuesday by phone from Libreville, Gabon's capital.

Oyima said his bank was particularly interested in gaining corporate clients in the electricity, water and construction industries. BGFI's Senegalese branch will be in Dakar, the capital of the biggest economy in the eight-member West African Economic and Monetary Union after Ivory Coast. The countries in the union share a currency and mostly have French as an official language and the grouping excludes Nigeria and Ghana.

BGFI's need for new markets has been underscored by the drop in crude oil prices, which account for more than two-thirds of government revenue in Gabon, where the bank has 40 percent of its operations. Oil slid almost 50 percent last year as the U.S. pumped at the fastest pace in more than three decades and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries resisted calls to cut supply.

"In the years to come, falling oil prices will probably lead us to make some adjustments," Oyima said. Aside from Gabon, BGFI operates in the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Benin, Sao Tome and Principe and France.

BGFI also plans to expand in the insurance industry in two Central and West African countries in 2015, he said, without elaborating. The Gabonese lender acquired three insurance companies in Togo, Benin and Ivory Coast last year, he said.

BGFI is considering having its shares trade on the Libreville stock exchange by 2020, Oyima said. The bank may later explore a listing on the West African bourse based in Abidjan, the commercial capital of Ivory Coast, he said.

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Publication:CPI Financial
Geographic Code:6GABO
Date:Jan 29, 2015
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