Standard Bank's Ivory Coast Unit to Boost Capital to Fund Growth

  • Bank to be among top Ivorian lenders after boost to cash
  • Stanbic to focus on energy, mining, agriculture, telecoms

Standard Bank Group Ltd.’s Ivory Coast unit plans to increase its capital levels this year as the continent’s largest lender uses the West African nation as a beachhead to expand into other Francophone countries.

"What we want first and foremost is to make Ivory Coast a success” before looking at other countries in the region, said Herve Boyer, country manager for the Johannesburg-based lender’s Stanbic Bank unit. The bank’s existing capital plus the extra injection will put it among the country’s top five lenders, he said, declining to be more specific.

Stanbic Bank is scheduled to open an office in the commercial hub of Abidjan at the end of May after receiving a license to operate in the country last year, Boyer said in an interview this week. It will eventually switch the license into one that will cover the eight countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union, whose members include Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Togo, he said. Having a branch will allow Stanbic Bank to lend in CFA francs.

The Ivory Coast, the world’s largest cocoa producer, has expanded at an average rate of 9 percent per year since 2012, boosted by public spending in infrastructure including roads, bridges and dams. Senegal, which is set to start producing oil from 2021, is also part of Stanbic Bank’s future plans, Boyer said.

The lender will focus on infrastructure projects, agriculture, telecommunications, mining and energy in Ivory Coast, while supporting the government’s ambitions to process more of its natural resources from cocoa and cashews to gold locally, he said.

Growth Outlook

Despite a series of mutinies in Ivory Coast’s army that paralyzed several cities earlier this year and showed that the military remains a threat to stability, the country will continue to expand, Boyer said, adding that the business environment is improving.

“Are we going to continue to see 9 percent-growth? The answer is no. But we’ll still be in the range of 6 to 7 percent," Boyer said in reference to the country’s expansion rate. "You have a consolidation period, you obviously have some hiccups, but we remain very positive.”

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