Botswana hosts Standard Bank group MD conference
by Sunday Standard Reporter
The pan African banking house, Standard Bank group, this week shored-up the country’s image in the continent and abroad when it hosted the Managing Director Conference in Gaborone—a meeting that was attended by 18 CEOs from across Africa.
The bank’s executives told Sunday Standard after the ‘regular session’ they were excited about Botswana and Africa’s prospects, which are expected to lead growth in the next two decades.
Standard Bank Africa CEO, Chris Newson said the conference was a platform to ‘talk about common things’ and praised Stanbic Bank Botswana as an important franchise for the group.
“Botswana is an important market for us. Its performance is fantastic and it offers a lot of lessons to take with us,” Newson said after the three day meeting.
The London based Newson added the conference allowed other Standard Bank group franchises in the continent to learn and understand the Botswana business, its challenges and translate that into their markets.
Standard Bank Group Deputy Group Chief Executive, Ben Kruger said Africa and Botswana remain important for the group‘s business and will remain like that for the coming decades.
“Botswana is an absolute leader in democracy in the continent,” Kruger said. “We are really excited about prospects of Africa. Botswana is a strong performer in our portfolio”.
Botswana, the world largest producer of rough diamonds faces challenges as the global economy is struggling to come out of recession.
Macroeconomic uncertainties remain a challenge to Stanbic Botswana as the economy is commodity driven with the global picture not looking good.
Standard Bank Group Chief Executive, Jacko Maree, said in the financial results for the first six months of 2012 that following a reasonable start to the year, the challenges that hampered the global economy in 2011 intensified in the second quarter, much of this centered on the Eurozone.
“It has become clear that 2012 has developed into another difficult year for the global economy. Investor confidence remains fragile and financial markets are volatile. This makes for a very challenging operating environment for all banks," Maree said.
Newson admitted the environment they operate in is very competitive adding that they ‘respect our competitors’.
Stanbic, the unlisted member of the country’s top-five club is one of the largest Standard Bank franchises in Africa.
Newson said in 17 countries, they operate in; Botswana is in top 5 in terms of contribution. Excluding South Africa, it contributes 10 – 12 percent to the group’s bottom line and represents between 3 – 5 percent of the Standard Bank’s portfolio.
Stanbic will remain unlisted because its MD Leina Gabaraane said the timing is critical when one thinks of floating shares on a stock market.
“It is a difficult time in the market to list,” added Kruger saying the bank is in a strong capital position. Companies usually list on a stock exchange to raise money and allow locals to own part of the enterprise.
However, Stanbic remains one of the largest market participants with huge investment in the country creating many jobs and paying tax to government while contributing to the GDP.
The bank has gone from one branch when it opened in 1992 to 10 branches and three more to be added this year. The bank, which only entered the retail space in the last 10 years, has 19 ATMs around the country with 10 more planned for this year.
One of the bank’s major acquisitions was in 2003 when it acquired Investec Private Banking book.
?As of February 2012, Stanbic Bank had a total of 540 staff members from an initial staff compliment of 20. Most of the positions are localised, including that of the Managing Director.
The franchise is expected to make an announcement next month on an unnamed huge investment with Botswana amongst the 4 countries chosen for ‘that particular’ investment’.
Standard Bank group currently operates in 18 countries on the African continent, including South Africa, as well as in other selected emerging markets.