StanChart to exit seven African markets

Michael Tome-Business Reporter

Standard Chartered, the oldest financial institution in the country, has announced that it will be closing business in  seven African countries, Zimbabwe and the Asian region.

The six countries to be exited by the bank include Angola, Cameroon, Gambia, Jordan, Lebanon, and Sierra Leone, as it implements a new growth strategy.

The United Kingdom headquartered group said it will also limit its operations in Tanzania and Ivory Coast to focus solely on corporate, commercial and institutional banking (CCIB) business.

The bank said the closures are meant to simplify its operations in Africa and the Middle East in an attempt to deliver efficiencies while reducing complexity.

It was, however, quick to point out that its focus will be redirected to bigger and faster-growing economies such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt which it noted had intentions to execute growth potential.

According to Standard Chartered markets being exited generated around one percent of total income in 2021 and a similar proportion of profit before tax.

Standard Chartered is following the steps of Barclays which sold its African unit in 2016 after a 90-year stint in the continent.

Switzerland group Credit Suisse also withdrew its wealth management business in nine African countries this year.

Standard Chartered bank earlier refuted reports that it had intentions to leave Zimbabwe.

The bank started a bank rationalisation programme in 2014 across the region and the Middle East which saw it introduce products and services slanted towards digital banking, which saw the bank reduce its branch network across the country to three to be with the Avondale, Bulawayo branches and its headquarters in the Harare’s Central Business district.

“The group remains focused on serving its clients where it can make the most impact. The group will continue to serve corporate and institutional clients and facilitate cross-border capital flows and offshore business in all the above markets from its international network.”

“As we set out earlier in the year, we are sharpening our focus on the most significant opportunities for growth while also simplifying our business. We remain excited by a number of opportunities we see in the Africa and Middle East (AME) region, as illustrated by our new markets, but remain disciplined in our assessment of where we can deliver significantly improved shareholder returns,” said Standard Chartered Group  Chief Executive Officer Bill Winters.

The bank is on record saying it will be focusing on cities that will experience significant economic growth in the future.  

The financial institution said it will remain active in 59 countries while serving clients in 83.

Contrary to the bandwagon by some banks, Deutsche Bank has since announced its intention to grow its private bank territory in the region.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Africa’s economy is projected to grow by 3,7 to 3,8 percent, a recovery pace regarded as slow when compared to some regions in the world

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