Stanchart to concentrate on organic growth in Africa

BY: Charles Benoni Okine
Mr Sunil Kaushal (middle) addressing the news conference. To his left is Mr Kweku Bedu-Addo

Standard Chartered Bank has expressed its resolve to concentrate on organic expansion across the African continent.

It said it would not be swayed into acquisitions available on the continent but would remain focused on its plans to expand by opening branches where it deemed fit to serve its customers.

The Regional Chief Executive Officer of Africa & the Middle East, Mr Sunil Kaushal, said this at a news conference in Accra in reaction to a question by the Daily Graphic as to whether the bank was prepared to take over rival bank, Barclays Africa Group.

Barclays Plc is selling down its 62 per cent stake, which is worth some $5 billion, in Barclays Africa Group (BAG) under a plan by new Chief Executive, Jes Staley, to simplify the bank's structure and generate higher shareholder returns.

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Barclays intend to sell 103.6 million shares in BAG, with up to 10.3 million shares going to South African state pension fund Public Investment Corporation (PIC), representing up to 1.2 per cent of BAG.

However, Stanchart insists that the bank remains positive on Africa’s long-term growth potential, with continued investment into areas of strength.  

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Stepping up investments

At the news conference, Standard Chartered Bank announced plans to step up investment and leverage its unique footprint and international banking expertise to drive growth in Africa.

Through a new brand campaign, ‘Here for Africa’, the bank reiterated its commitment to invest in Africa’s future, and continue to support key growth sectors across local economies, including infrastructure, telecommunications, transport, retail and trade. 

Under the bank’s refreshed global strategy, announced late last year, it reiterated its heightened focus on Africa, seeking to grow its business across all markets, with a keen focus on corporate and commercial segments.  

Presently, the bank operates in 38 African economies, 16 on a full-presence basis and 22 on a transactional basis.  The bank’s footprint of 180 branches and outlets now has an extended reach, as a result of the bank’s continuous evolution of its digital platforms and mobile banking channels.  

Mr Kaushal said, “Africa is an integral and a valuable economic partner region within our unique footprint across the region, Asia and the Middle East. 

“This campaign is about our show of commitment and confidence in a continent that we have been in for over 150 years. We consider ourselves truly African – every one of our sub-Saharan CEOs is African, our people who lead and manage our strategy are African, and our strategy is tailored to Africa’s specific trends and business dynamics. We are indeed here for good and here for Africa,” he explained.

Mr Kaushal added, “We believe in forging strong partnerships which deliver tangible value for all members of Africa’s economies, not just our clients.  Our USD5 billion commitment to President Obama’s Power Africa campaign, in partnership with African governments, continues to light up new homes and companies to spur income and growth.”  

He noted that, “We are encouraging foreign and regional investment in our role as ratings advisor to numerous African governments, linking Africa’s growth potential with more investors across Asia and the Middle East.  Africa remains a key area of strategic investment for us as a Group, as we focus on building our own strong franchise and growing safely across the continent.”

The Regional CEO for Ghana, Sierra Leone and The Gambia, Mr  Kweku Bedu-Addo, for his part added, “This year Standard Chartered celebrates 120 years of supporting Ghana’s economic development, making Accra an ideal city to launch our ‘Here for Africa’ campaign”. 

He said the bank in Ghana continued to deliver tangible benefits to support local economic growth. These benefits include the development of human capital; roll-out of digital banking solutions to more than 200,000 retail customers; sovereign advisory expertise and support for Ghana’s Eurobond issuances; attracting new investor capital from across Europe, US, the Middle East and Asia, as well as empowering local entrepreneurs by bridging the gap between large multinationals and local suppliers through our successful supply chain financing proposition.  

Mr Bedu-Addo noted that all the initiatives helped to cement the bank’s legacy while building a bright future for many generations of Ghanaians.