News Column

Educating capital

August 6, 2014

Kindly tell us of the current MENA investor interest into Sub Saharan Africa (SSA)?

"The MENA region has historically been very close to Africa. The trade flows between East Africa in particular and the Gulf region are well documented; countries such as Oman and the UAE have had a long trading history with that part of SSA.

"On the other hand, the long established Lebanese communities in West Africa are also a strong link to the continent dating back over 100 years, specifically in Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and the Ivory Coast.

"Over the past two years, we have noted an increase MENA interest into SSA from Sovereign Wealth Funds, Family Offices and Private Equity players; they are becoming more and more familiar with the continent, and it is part of our role to educate the large pools of capital in the MENA region on opportunities in SSA This interest has mostly focused around oil and gas, mining and FMCG, and more recently real estate."

How much business are you capturing from your presence in the UAE? Why should MENA investors choose Standard Bank?

"Our Dubai office is the hub for our MENA business. We have been established here for around 14 years and have been at the DIFC since inception around nine years ago. From this office, we capture the investment banking, corporate banking and global markets business into Africa.

"Standard Bank is Africa's largest bank by assets, present in 19 countries and providing a universal model of banking in the vast majority of these countries. Investors and Clients see us as one stop shop to deliver African opportunities."

Which business segments are growing from UAE investor interest?

We have noted a significant increase in the interest for resource sectors (oil and gas, mining), power and infrastructure and FMCG (retail, food related).

What are your services from the DIFC office?

"Our DIFC office is an origination hub, client facing, focusing on serving our clients in the following areas: Investment Banking (DCM, advisory, debt products, and ECM), Corporate Banking (advising the Dubai-based multinationals on their expansion in Africa), Global Markets (including the precious metals desk which handles a significant proportion of the gold that is traded in Dubai)."

Kindly tell us of the amount of gain in activity for your commodities desk in Dubai? How well is it positioned to compete vis a vis other investment banks in UAE providing a similar service?

"The commodities desk in Dubai is one of the four important contributors to the regional revenues of the bank and provides a very competitive edge vis a vis some of the competitors in the region. We have a leading market share in this sector."

Kindly tell us the growth sectors of interest to MENA investors into SSA? Which are the countries of interest? How safe is it investing in African markets for MENA investors?

"The countries of interest for MENA investors generally are in East Africa (Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda), Mozambique, Angola, Nigeria and Ghana.

"As in every country, where investors decide to deploy capital, MENA investors need to conduct appropriate due diligence taking into account all the risk rewards parameters in the sector and country they are investing in. Our role as a bank is to assist them in understanding the local context looking for the right partners and help them in the due diligence. Because our balance sheet is mostly deployed in the 19 African countries where we have a presence, we also offer financing solutions, including acquisition finance, where and when appropriate."

Why should MENA investors choose African markets over other emerging market such as in India, CIS, China?

"Today six of the fastest growing economies are in Africa. Alongside Asia, Africa is a continent that is experiencing significant growth, wealth creation and development of big power and infrastructure projects. The upside potential of investment in Africa is generally higher than it would be in India, CIS and China; mostly because African countries are starting from a lower base and have growing needs."

What events is Standard Bank promoting to draw MENA investor interest into African economies?

"Standard Bank sponsors, promotes and hosts throughout the year several forums and events aiming to show case the African economies and the relevant investment opportunities in those countries.

"For instance, The East African Summit that we held in September 2013 gathered selected regional policy makers, investors and key Standard Bank executives who debated the strategic opportunities and investments required over the coming years to enable the East Africa region to fully realise its economic potential; it was attended by over 100 relevant investors.

"Moreover, in 2014 Standard bank sponsored Dubai Precious Metal Conference, 3rd edition on the 6th and 7th of April. DPMC is a gateway for precious metals business opportunities where it embraced "Engaging with Africa," as one of the 2014 themes and attracted over 400 delegates from different countries around the globe.

"Likewise, on the 5th of May 2014, Mergermarket held the Middle Eastern M&A and Private Equity Forum where Standard Bank was pleased to participate as a strategic partner. Each year the conference provides a useful platform for Standard Bank to highlight its profile in the market by demonstrating expertise in cross- border M&A.

"Furthermore, on May 28, 2014, Standard Bank hosted the South African Summit at Medina Jumeirah. The event has been jointly organised by Standard Bank Group and The South African Embassy in United Arab Emirates aimed at promoting investment opportunities in South Africa. Key policy makers and senior members attended from a number of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs). The summit was a unique, high- level networking platform for Middle Eastern investors to connect with the significant infrastructure opportunities in South Africa.

"Finally, around June of each year, Standard Bank hosts the Africa Investors' Conference in London. It provides a productive interaction among corporates and investors where each benefit from an in-depth and thorough understanding about the opportunities on hand. This conference includes a series of one on one meetings."

Standard Bank is Africa's largest bank by assets, present in 19 countries and providing a universal model of banking in the vast majority of these countries

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Source: Banker Middle East

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