If Nigerian banks appear to have suffered disproportionately in the global financial crisis, maybe they have Heathrow Terminal 5 to blame.

Nigerian banks were advertising their services on billboards in Terminal 5 last year, and travelling investors felt it showed the banks were rashly trying to keep up with international investment banks in aiming for a global profile, causing many to sell, a banker specialising in Africa told journalists this morning over breakfast.

“Those adverts were a sign to sell Nigerian banks,” Luca del Conte, executive director in treasury and capital markets at Medicapital Bank said.

“We have about 100 institutional investors, and of 50 funds that we speak to actively, more than half mentioned this.  Once capital markets started shaking, funds did not ask any more questions, they just sold.”

Medicapital says the banking sector represents over 60 percent of market capitalisation on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, but daily volumes on the exchange have dwindled to $10-15 million a day, suffering also from a fall in the oil price, compared with $100 million a year ago.