Malawi: Two smallest banks merge
The merger is to enable the banks to meet the capital requirements of Malawi's apex bank.The two smallest banks in Malawi, New Finance Bank (NFB) and Opportunity Bank, have announced that they will merge to meet the capital requirements of the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM). In a joint statement released by the banks, they stated that RBM had approved the merger and which would take effect in six weeks. "The shareholders of the merged bank intend to increase capital and grow operations," said the chairman and chief executive Francis Pelekamoyo, a former central bank governor. Prior to this merger announcement, both banks have been grappling with each other for market share, and additionally with telecommunications firms offering mobile money transfers. Malawi's formal financial access is limited, with less than a fifth of the population owning bank accounts. Opportunity Bank is a unit of micro-lender Opportunity International and New Finance Bank has Finance Bank Zambia as shareholder. This merger reduces the number of licensed banks in Malawi from eleven from nine.