According to various media reports, the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) announced yesterday that it was seeking prospective investors to buy Keystone Bank, the last of the nationalised banks yet to be sold.

AMCON said in a public notice that it had decided to let go of its 100 percent interest in the bank and ask prospective buyers to submit their bids by March 4, according to a Nigeria CommunicationsWeek report.

Citibank's local unit and FBN Capital were appointed by AMCON as financial advisers to manage the process, asking prospective investors to submit bids, showing evidence of credibility and eligibility for the transaction.

Nigeria, through AMCON, nationalized three banks, Afribank, Spring Bank and Bank PHB in 2011. AMCON then recapitalized them and changed their names to MainstreetBank, EnterpriseBank and Keystone Bank. The corporation has since sold two of the banks.

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Based on audited accounts as of June last year, Keystone bank's total assets are about 317.6 billion naira ($1.60 billion), equity of 18.9 billion naira and a loan portfolio of about 98.2 billion naira.

As at Dec. 31, the Bank had 156 branches across the country with four subsidiaries, two of which are international, AMCON said in the notice.

Another commercial lender, Sterling Bank had told Reuters on Friday it was looking to buy one or two mid-sized commercial lenders as sharp falls in the value of the naira and increased regulatory pressure are forcing banks to recapitalize. It is unclear if Sterling will consider Keystone bank as a viable option in its quest to recapitalize.

AMCON was set up by the government in 2010 to absorb non-performing loans in exchange for government bonds, after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) injected $4 billion to rescue nine lenders from collapse seven years ago.