Standard Bank eyes West Africa growth

Abidjan - Standard Bank is seeking a banking license in Senegal after opening in Ivory Coast as the lender expands in West Africa’s French-speaking countries.

Africa’s largest lender, which opened in the world’s biggest cocoa producer on Monday, will focus on corporate and investment banking clients after obtaining the license in 2016, Sola David-Borha, the Johannesburg-based company’s chief executive officer for Africa, said in an interview in Abidjan.

Standard Bank sees Ivory Coast as an entry point for Francophone West Africa and will target to have all the necessary permits for Senegal in 12- to 18 months, she said.

Ivory Coast, the biggest economy among the eight countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union, expanded at 7.8% last year after an average of 9% per year since 2012, boosted by public spending. After growth of 6.8% in 2017, Senegal will maintain an expansion rate of about 7% until 2022, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Following clients

“Francophone West Africa is increasingly becoming important as a vector of growth on the African continent,” Standard Bank group CEO Sim Tshabalala said in the same interview. “We’re going to follow our clients. It’s mainly going to be driven by our clients’ needs and our clients’ demands and we’ll go to where our clients take us.”

Standard Bank, which operates in 20 African countries, also wants to obtain a license for Ethiopia where it has a representative office, said David-Borha. African countries outside South Africa contributed 28% to Standard Bank’s net revenue in 2016, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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