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Standard Bank to open business in Angola

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South African Standard Bank hopes to open for business in Angola by mid-year when it will be interested in any sector consolidation and set to act as a link between the country’s resources and China and Russia.

Warming relations between Angola and South Africa and the ties Africa’s biggest bank by assets has with China and Russia — rivals in attempts to secure access to Angolan resources — should help the new business, a senior executive said.

Pedro Pinto Coelho, chief executive of Standard Bank in Angola, also said in an interview: “Our big role will be to bring investors in and show them the reality of the Angolan economy. To try to reduce their perception of risk of Angola that sometimes may be exaggerated”.

Standard Bank was given a bank licence by oil-producing Angola last year. Pinto Coelho said it would have $50 million capital and three branches — two in the capital Luanda and one in the port city of Lobito — when it opens.

“Out of the 17 countries in Africa where we operate we see Nigeria, Ghana and Angola as a priority,” Pinto Coelho said.

“We believe these three markets could register the biggest growth in Africa on the back of their resources, population growth and the social, economic and political conditions.”

Angola rivals Nigeria as Africa’s biggest oil producer and is the world’s fifth biggest diamond producer. It is the third-biggest economy in sub-Saharan Africa, behind Nigeria and South Africa.

Pinto Coelho said Standard Bank would be interested in any consolidation of an Angolan banking sector that has around 14 banks but is dominated by three banks.

“Standard Bank could become a strategic partner of a bank in Angola which needs capital to expand its operations,” he said.

The Industrial and Commercial bank of China, one of the world’s biggest banks by market capitalisation holds a 20 percent stake in Standard Bank.

Standard Bank also has strategic partnership with Troika Dialog holding. It holds around a third of the largest independent investment bank in Russia.

STAKE SALE

Standard Bank is close to selling 49 percent of its business in Angola to local investors, Pinto Coelho. That is the proportion favoured by the Angolan government when allowing foreign banks to operate there.

“We are in final negotiations with investors and the outcome of these talks should soon be known,” Pinto Coelho said.

Standard Bank’s entry into Angola’s booming commercial banking sector, where only 15 percent of the nation’s 16.5 million population is estimated to have access to banking services, marks the strongest bet yet by a South African bank on Angola.

Both countries have been trying to bolster business ties since Jacob Zuma, a personal friend of Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, became president of South Africa earlier this year and picked Angola as his first official state visit.

Source: Reuters

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