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IFC to invest in FirstRand

The International Finance Corporation said it will invest $172.5 million in FirstRand Bank, boosting the South African bank’s efforts to reach more small and midsize businesses in faster-growing African markets. FirstRand, one of South Africa’s four largest banks, is expanding outside its home market to African countries including Nigeria, Ghana and Zambia. Nigeria passed South Africa in April as the continent’s biggest economy, and economic growth in South Africa has lagged behind many of Africa’s most dynamic economies. As a result, South African banks like FirstRand are looking to shift more of their growth and business to these dynamic neighbors. FirstRand plans to use the IFC’s funding to invest in companies that can give its businesses annual growth of about 5 percentage points above the 7.1% and 7.3% that Nigeria and Zambia’s economies are forecast to grow this year, respectively.

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