Afreximbank (Afrexim) has signed a US$272mn deal to finance Heritage Bank’s acquisition of Enterprise Bank in Nigeria.

GTR can confirm that, as the sole lead arranger, Afrexim provides 80% of Heritage Bank’s US$344mn winning bid for Enterprise Bank, acquiring the lender from Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (Amcon), the body created by the Nigerian government in 2010 to revive the country’s financial system. Heritage provides US$72mn, or 20%, of the financing.

Commenting on the deal, Afrexim president Jean-Louis Ekra says it will “help the Nigerian government stabilise its financial sector”, adding: “It will also advance Afrexim’s strategic goal of empowering Africans to participate in strategic sectors, providing the bank with a platform for expanding the financing of SMEs in Nigerian supply chains.”

The acquisition sees Enterprise become the first Nigerian “bridge bank” to be successfully divested under Nigeria’s banking reform programme.

Along with Mainstreet Bank and Keystone Bank, Enterprise was originally taken over by Amcon following reported solvency challenges caused by under-capitalisation. Bids are invited for these bridge banks following a period of fresh capital injection.

“The acquisition will strengthen our product distribution, increase our presence and strengthen our market assertiveness and recognition,” says managing director of Heritage Bank, Ifie Sekibo, in a statement from Afrexim.

According to the statement, future co-financing partnerships with Heritage are likely in areas such as factoring and a programme for “ethnic food” financing.