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JOHANNESBURG, Jan 27 (Reuters) – South Africa’s First National Bank (FNB), the retail banking unit of FirstRand Ltd (FSRJ.J) will start operating in Zambia by the second quarter this year, it said on Tuesday.


FNB, which was granted an operating license last December by the Bank of Zambia, said it believed the country was investor- friendly and had little political risk.


“FNB made the decision to enter Zambia as it has one of the highest GDPs in the region and the economy is growing at a favourable rate,” chief executive of FNB Africa, Jabu Khethe, said.


FNB said it would provide retail, business, commercial and corporate banking services in Zambia.


The retail bank already operates in Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho and Mozambique. It said it was also considering expanding into Tanzania, Angola, Uganda and Ghana.


Rival bank Standard Bank (SBKJ.J), Africa’s biggest bank by assets, already operates in 18 African countries. Absa (ASAJ.J) has links with other markets via its parent Barclays (BARC.L) and Nedbank (NEDJ.J) operates in Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. (Reporting by Zimkhitha Sulelo; Editing by Erica Billingham) 

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