21 September 2011

Standard Bank Group celebrates 500th Africa branch outside South Africa



The Nigerian town of Ajao Estate has become home to Standard Bank Group's (SBG) 500th branch in Africa (outside of South Africa) as the group's growth strategy gains further traction across the continent.

The branch opening, in the Nigerian state of Osolo Lagos, was one of three significant milestones reached by StandardBank Group's Africa operations in September. Standard Bank Group now has 500 branches, 2.5-million signed-up customers and 3-milllion active accounts on its books from its operations in 16 countries around the continent excluding South Africa.

Standard Bank Group operates as Stanbic IBTC Bank in Nigeria.

Within South Africa, Standard Bank Group is a leader in terms of distribution and marketshare. More than 700 branches, more than 7 000 ATMs and more than 8 000 bank shops provide service to about 9.7-million customers. Standard Bank Group is the largest residential mortgage lender in South Africa, has the largest retail deposit market share and is the largest credit card issuer.

Ben Kruger, deputy chief executive of Standard Bank Group, says continued expansion across the bank's continental footprint is tangible evidence of its continued commitment to Africa.

"For those serious about taking advantage of the growth opportunities in Africa, there can be no substitute for on-the-ground presence in the key markets. Standard Bank Group has been investing steadily in its African footprint for the best part of 20 years. The experience has provided lessons that continue to help us understand how best to continue growing in Africa," says Mr Kruger.

He says Standard Bank Group expects to report further growth in the number of its branches and customers this timenext year because of new investment it continues to commit.

In Nigeria, Standard Bank Group has 180 branches and envisages opening 20 branches a year. Standard Bank's personal and business banking lines have grown by 87% this year in Nigeria.

"Nigeria is an interesting country with many opportunities. It is a market we understand well and have great insight into," says Mr Kruger.

Standard Bank Group's relatively recent entrance to the Angolan market, one of Africa's highest growth countries, is settling into a growth phase. Mr Kruger says the group now has four branches and 75 bankers working in Angola.

"We are busy rolling out seven branches so will have 11 branches by year-end. We plan to have at least 20 branches soon so that we are fully relevant to the multi-nationals operating in Angola."

Standard Bank signalled the group's intent to grow its position in Africa further when it announced last month that it will use part of the $750-million it expects from sales of stakes in its Argentinean subsidiary Standard Bank Argentina and Troika Dialog in Russia to focus on its franchise in Africa.

"These milestones are important to us because they provide a solid platform from which to continue to grow and consolidate our position in key African markets. We will continue to build first-class, on-the-ground banking franchises in chosen markets in Africa and invest in people, branch networks and systems," says Mr Kruger.

Standard Bank recognises that it is still not at optimal scale in some key regions, he says, nor is it yet present in some potentially attractive and fast-growing countries. He says the group has a good platform from which toexpand, has the capacity to grow organically and is also looking for opportunities for acquisitions.

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