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Standard Bank eyes expansion into francophone West Africa

Ivory Coast

South Africa’s Standard bank is set to expand its operations into francophone West Africa.

The bank is riding on a chinese investment drive into Ivory Coast to establish a foothold in the region.

Chinese authorities and companies have committed over $7.5 billion over the next few years to invest in infrastructure in the Ivory Coast.

“By virtue of our relationship with the ICBC (Industrial and Commercial Bank of China) we think we’re in a position to provide advice, structuring and the capability to deploy the resources necessary to get involved in that infrastructure,” Group Chief Executive of Standard Group, Sim Tshabalala told the Reuters news agency after the launch of a subsidiary in Abidjan targeting corporate and investment banking clients.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, ICBC has a 20.1 percent stake in Standard Bank which should make it possible for the South African lender to mobilise financing for China’s African partners.

Ivory Coast, the world’s largest cocoa producer and an agricultural commodities powerhouse is experiencing a post conflict economic boom driven by infrastructure investment which has caught the attention of the Chinese.

“Cote d’Ivoire is growing up 7 percent, and is likely to grow at that rate for the next couple of years, till 2020, and banks grow off the back of GDP growth,” said Tshabalala.

“You’ve got the GDP, you’ve got financial deepening, you’ve got the stock exchange here, therefore equity and capital markets. And you’ve got development in the debt capital markets.”

Standard Bank already has operations in 19 African countries including Nigeria and Ghana in West Africa. The Ivory Coast bank is thus to serve members of the West African Economic and Monetary Union.

The Bank Tshabalala says plans to move into other areas that have proven sucessful for the group.

“We have to start in the Ivory Coast. … You got to learn to walk before you run and we’ve got enough opportunities here in the Ivory Coast, and we’ve got clients in the region who we will be able to service out of these operations, so we are not in a rush,” Tshabalala assured.

“We got to establish ourselves here, build the infrastructure, build the products here, build the clients base, and as we grow, then lift our heads to see if we need to build installations in other parts of the region.”

Standard Bank invested over 100 million dollars in the Ivory Coast alone in 2017 to set up its subsidiary known as Stanbic.

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