The continent’s banking sector is growing rapidly, supported, by the quick expansion of the African middle-class. And for a long time, South African banks have remained the leading financial institutions in Africa.
The world began to look at Africa’s financial sector differently after ICBC, the world’s biggest bank by value, paid USD 5.5 Bnfor a 20 percent stake in Standard Bank in 2007.
The deal became like an ‘eye-opener’ for many global financial institutions who started to see Africa as a potential source of profits.
Africa’s regional lenders specifically from Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa and Kenya have also upped their game and are expanding beyond the continent mostly through acquiring international banks.
Absa, one of Africa’s biggest banks plans to have a new office in China as it seeks to expand its corporate and investment banking unit.
The bank will also be targetting other parts of Asia and the Middle East in its expansion mission.
“Next year, we will be seeking strategic approval from our board for an on-the-ground presence in China,” Charles Russon, the division’s CEO, said in an interview recently.
“My hunch is it will be Beijing. It’s actually one of the questions we’ve asked the strategic team to figure out.”
Despite South Africa’s challenging economic environment in South Africa, Absa Group Ltd recorded 5 percent increase in its half-year profits boosted by improved performance in the South African retail-banking business.
The financial services provider which has operations across 13 markets on the continent is aiming for multinational firms, such as Huawei, as part of an effort to boost revenue from the region.
“We spent a lot of time this year building out some of the Chinese speaking capability and delivery capability in some of our core markets – Kenya, Zambia, South Africa,” Russon said.
Apart from Absa, there are other top South African banks eyeing to grow presence in China. They include; Standard Bank, First Rand’s Rand Merchant Bank as well as Nedbank.
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