Standard Bank to open in South Sudan by end of year

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Standard Bank hopes to close the sale of its controlling stake in the London-based Global Markets business in six months’ time.

Standard Bank hopes to close the sale of its controlling stake in the London-based Global Markets business in six months’ time.

It also plans to set up a self-standing branch in South Sudan by the end of the 2014 financial year as part of its growth plans in the continent.

In results for the six months ended June, Standard Bank on Thursday reported an improvement in its rest of Africa operations. If that improvement is sustained, it gives Standard Bank an opportunity to offset challenges in South Africa, should growth slow.

In terms of total income contribution to the group, the rest of Africa constituted 30% — growing from 17% in 2010.

Personal and business banking in the rest of Africa swung to headline earnings of R53m from a loss of R201m in the interim period in 2013. “It represents a change of strategy. They are looking for high-quality customers,” Avior research analyst Harry Botha said on Thursday.

Personal and business banking in the rest of Africa grew customer numbers by 6% to 15.9-million.

Standard Bank Group CEO Sim Tshabalala said on Thursday that the plan was to sustain the momentum in the rest of Africa. He said Standard Bank now had an infrastructure and a good product set in the continent, and if the macroeconomic environment remained positive the bank would sustain earnings growth.

Corporate and investment banking experienced an increase in operational costs, and slower growth rates in East Africa. The division was also affected by the alleged fraud in China.

If Standard Bank comes to South Sudan, it will see the number of foreign-owned banks in the country increase. Currently, the following foreign-owned banks operate in the country; Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, Equity Bank, Stanbic, and Kenya Commercial Bank.

 Other banks offering financial and banking products and services are Nile Commercial Bank, Agricultural Bank of Sudan, Bank of Khartoum Juba, Buffalo Commercial Bank, Ivory Bank, Mountain Trade and Development Bank, Renaissance Insurance Company and Sudan Microfinance Institution.

By November 2013, South Sudan had 28 commercial banks operating in the country with more than 70 applications on the pipeline. At the same time, given the vastness of South Sudan and limited infrastructure, only a small number of citizens - fewer than 3 percent - of the S. Sudanese population had access to financial services, compared to Kenya and Uganda at 42 and 20 percent respectively.

 

(BusinessDay & TCT)

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