Standard Bank Group has expanded its Africa footprint with the opening of a representative office in the Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire).
This means that Standard Bank, which is the largest African banking group by assets and earnings, now has operations in 19 African countries.
The representative office, which is based in Abidjan, officially opens for business in February 2014. It signifies a deliberate drive by Standard Bank into the West Francophone Africa region, with the intention of using this office to become familiar with the region and identify opportunities for growth within it.
Says Sim Tshabalala, joint Group Chief Executive, Standard Bank Group: “As a bank rooted in Africa with a 151 year history, Standard Bank is committed to broadening and deepening its footprint on the continent. Standard Bank's strategy is to be the leading African financial services organisation.”
He said that the establishment of a physical presence in the Côte d'Ivoire would benefit Standard Bank corporate clients that have already established or are considering establishing operations in West Francophone Africa.
Standard Bank has identified the West Africa region as a key growth opportunity. It has massive potential as it is ideally placed as a hub for the region through its membership in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA). The UEMOA comprises Benin, Burkina Fasso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo.
The key drivers behind Côte d'Ivoire's growth are the public investment initiatives in infrastructure, natural resources (oil & gas and mining), the ongoing commercialisation of agriculture, the country's consumer market potential, the levels of Chinese-led investment into the country, and the importance which the Ivory Coast plays in the West Francophone Africa region.
“Establishing a presence in the Côte d'Ivoire is in congruence with our Africa-focused strategy. It has the benefit of creating closer geographic links to business opportunities in the region, and a deeper understanding of the market opportunities and challenges, which is required by our clients, both South African and regional corporates, as well as multinationals,” said Mr Tshabalala.
Hervé Boyer, a long standing employee of Standard Bank, has been appointed Managing Director of the representative office. Mr Boyer, who is French speaking, has specific experience in Global Markets and Corporate and Investment Banking, and has a track record of dealing with clients in West Africa.
“We believe that the Côte d'Ivoire would be the most appropriate location from which to create a base to facilitate further business in the Ivory Coast, gain better a better understanding of the West Francophone Africa region and better serve and meet our customer and client's needs,” said Mr Boyer.
In the initial stages, the primary function of the office will be to source business for Standard Bank and to promote trades between various African countries and the Ivory Coast.
Standard Bank will consider scaling up the business once business flows justify this.