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Nedbank Group is finding its profitability is at the mercy of the oil price and Nigerian and South African politicians because of the lender's reliance on its two biggest markets. The company has shaped its African expansion strategy around a 20% stake in Ecobank Transnational, which makes the bulk of its money in Nigeria, among the 36 countries in which it operates. A contraction in Nigeria's economy following a slide in oil prices and currency controls caused Ecobank to tumble to a 2016 loss, weighing on Nedbank's earnings. This comes as Nedbank faces its own issues at home, where President Jacob Zuma's firing of three finance ministers in less than two years helped to shove the economy into recession and spurred credit downgrades to junk. Large exposure While peers Barclays Africa Group, FirstRand and Standard Bank Group face the same local challenges, those lenders have bought or built diverse operations across the continent that are under their control. "Nedbank's Africa strate...

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