Ecobank Transnational Inc. (ETI) said the purchase by Qatar National Bank SAQ of a 23.5 per cent stake will help the Togo-based lenders potential access to North African markets.This is a great asset and a good support, as it opens for us horizons in North Africa and in countries in the circle of influence of QNB, as the Doha-based bank is known, Richard Uku, a spokesman for Ecobank, told Bloomberg.QNB, the Middle Easts biggest lender by market value, bought an 11 percent stake in Ecobank for $283 million on September 15 to become its top shareholder. This followed the purchase of 12.5 per cent stake valued at about $230 million on September 4.Consolidation in the African banking market is increasing as firms including former Barclays Plc Chief Executive Officer Robert Diamonds Atlas Mara Co-Nvest Ltd. (ATMA) scout for deals. It is too early to say whether Ecobank will open agencies in northern African countries, Uku said. The banks strategy remains focused on sub-Saharan Africa.Nedbank Group Limited. (NED), the South African lender controlled by Old Mutual Plc, formed an alliance with Ecobank in 2008 and has the option until November 25 of gaining a 20 per cent stake that would give it access to bank customers in more than 30 African countries.Our partnership will not negatively affect our relationship with Nedbank, Uku said. We are comfortable with these two partnerships. Johannesburg-based Nedbank said Sept. 9 it remains committed to its alliance with Ecobank.]]> Click here to read full news..