Angola’s Banco BIC Targets Africa Growth, Tapping Oil Wealth

Banco BIC SA, Angola’s biggest private bank by branches, plans to open offices in Namibia and South Africa as it considers further regional expansion.

Banco BIC has applied to Namibia’s central bank to open branches in its southern neighbor and plans a representative office in Johannesburg, said Chief Executive Officer Fernando Teles. The bank is also studying Botswana, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Gabon, he said.

“These countries have good relations with Angola, they’re nearby and some of their markets are starting to flourish,” Teles said in a March 18 interview in Luanda, Angola’s capital. The Namibia application is “looking good,” he said.

Banco BIC, which bought Banco Portugues de Negocios SA from Portugal last year for 40 million euros ($52 million), expects the 15-nation South African Development Community to make it easier for cross-border acquisitions, Teles said. The lender -- whose biggest shareholders include Teles, Portuguese billionaire Americo Amorim and Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s President -- also wants to exploit its home nation’s position as Africa’s second-biggest oil producer.

The bank has opened an office in Luanda targeting oil companies and service providers after Angola passed a new law that requires foreign oil companies to start using kwanzas, the local currency, to pay taxes from May. Local suppliers must comply in July and other foreign companies from October.

Oil Windfall

The law could increase liquidity by bringing about $50 billion a year of oil money into the economy, Teles said.

“We think the law is very good because it will help finance the economy much more and the banks and everyone will benefit from this,” he said. “This is why we’ve set up an office because we know these companies are very demanding, and we have people who speak English, French and Portuguese and they have specialized knowledge of the oil market.”

Oil producers such as Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., BP Plc and Total SA operate in Angola, which pumps about 1.8 million barrels of oil a day, surpassed only by Nigeria in Africa.

While Angola expects its economy to grow by 7.1 percent this year, the country can’t depend on oil forever and needs more investment in agriculture and industry, Teles said.

BIC, which plans to expand its Angolan branches to 213 by the end of this year from 188 today, may list as much as 25 percent of the company in Luanda when a stock exchange starts operating, Teles said.

Brazil Network

Teles owns 20 percent of Banco BIC with Amorim and dos Santos each holding 25 percent.

The company may consider acquisitions in Angola, which has 23 banks, Teles said, adding that Banco BIC may continue with its annual target of opening 25 to 30 branches for “many years.”

Banco BIC, which is waiting for Portugal’s government to approve its April bid for BPN’s operation in Brazil, also wants to open corporate offices in the South American country.

“Our goal would be to open right now as quick as possible six corporate departments in six major cities in Brazil,” Teles said. “Brazil is a market that’s working a lot with Angola and for us it would be very interesting to start operating as soon as possible.”

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