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Workers hang their clothes outside old metal shipping containers in front of the Kilamba Kiaxi housing development, a Chinese-built project outside the Angolan capital of Luanda Sept. 2, 2012.SIPHIWE SIBEKO/Reuters

Top investment bank Lazard LLC said Monday it would open a department specializing in mergers and acquisitions in sub-Saharan Africa, where demand has leapt over the past decade.

Matthieu Pigasse, who heads the U.S. bank's French unit, noted that the "merger-acquisition market in Africa remains limited in value, in the order of $25-billion.

"But it is growing very strongly as it has multiplied by 10 times over the last 10 years. We are convinced that it will continue and grow.

"Increasingly, European, American or Asian groups are gaining interest in Africa and wish to develop there, as they see a relay of growth.

"At the same time, African companies are leaving to conquer the world, as BRIC companies have done over the past 10 years," Mr. Pigasse said, referring to firms from Brazil, Russia, India and China.

The new department, called Lazard Africa, will be based in Paris, and will offer financial counselling, particularly on mergers and acquisitions throughout sub-Saharan Africa, with the exception of South Africa.

Beyond the mining and energy sectors, Mr. Pigasse noted that distribution, telecommunications, financial services and transportation sectors are all growing dynamically in the merger and acquisitions market in Africa.