Standard Chartered plans to double the number of private bankers catering to African millionaires over the next five years as the London -based lender seeks to offset a drop in earnings at its consumer bank. "We will have a hiring programme across London , Geneva and Dubai principally," Roger Johnson , the managing director for private clients in Africa , said on Friday. "It's one of the fastest growing markets." Standard Chartered is competing with UBS, HSBC and Barclays for African entrepreneurs and individuals enriched by the sale of stakes in family-owned businesses. The number of millionaires in Nigeria , Kenya and Angola would more than double by 2030, boosting the prospects for private banking on the continent, New World Wealth, a UK -based research firm, said in a report last month. African clients tended to move wealth to London , Jersey or Switzerland and liked to deal with bankers in person or by telephone, Johnson said. It was not easy to find managers with the knowledge and skills to service affluent Africans and a willingness to travel to countries where the power, communications and transport systems could be poor, he said. Nigeria , one of the markets targeted by the bank, is ranked 129th for infrastructure in the World Economic Forum's 2014 Global Competitiveness Report, while South Africa and Kenya come 63rd and 68th, respectively. Angola , where the number of millionaires is set to jump by 144 percent to 15 600 by 2030, according to New World Wealth, comes last among the 148 countries surveyed. Standard Chartered hired Johnson and John Lee in October last year to join a unit of about 30 staff. The unit expected to double revenue every three years, Johnson said. The bank scrapped a sales growth target of at least 10 percent last year and last month forecast a decline in earnings at its consumer banking unit after taking a $1 billion (R11bn) write-down on its South Korean business. It was fined $667 million by US regulators in 2012 for breaches of US sanctions on Iran . It dropped 14 percent last year, making it the worst performer among the UK's five biggest banks, and the Financial Times reported last week that the lender was seen as a takeover target. The lender was targeting wealthy Africans who had made their money in the consumer, energy, telecommunications and infrastructure industries, Johnson said. The number of Africans with at least $1m of investable assets climbed 9.9 percent to 140 000 in 2012, according to a report published in June by Cap Gemini and Royal Bank of Canada . Private bankers received referrals from co-workers advising companies on financing and deals, Johnson said. Standard Chartered , which has more than ' branches and 8 000 employees in Africa , saw earnings from the continent grow at a compound annual rate of 25 percent over the past five years. The region generated income of $1.6bn in 2012. Private bankers also used information from its offices in China , Hong Kong and India to track investment from Asia , and help them target newly wealthy Africans, Johnson said. It expected trade between China and Africa to surge to $1.7 trillion in 2030, from $198.5bn in 2012. Trade between India and Africa has increased almost 25 percent a year since 2000. - Bloomberg The Mercury
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