Mauritian bank to expand operations in SADC


Bulawayo – Mauritius-based AfrAsia Bank Limited (ABL) says it will soon invest in other Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, as its confidence in regional economies increases.

ABL also has offices in Johannesburg and London.

The Mauritian bank recently announced that it has invested US$20 million in Zimbabwe's Kingdom AfrAsia Bank, which will be translated to equity resulting in the banking group acquiring a 62.5 percent controlling stake in the former Kingdom Bank up from 32 against a local legal threshold of 49 percent.

Zimbabwe's Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, defended the position saying government was aware of what the law required and the dilution that will come with this investment, but there will be incremental gains until the thresholds are met since work on a policy framework that will clearly spell out the indigenisation thresholds for the economy’s different sectors was underway.

AfrAsia Bank Mauritius took control of the former Kingdom Financial Holdings last year after buying out the group’s founder Nigel Chanakira and renamed it AfrAsia Zimbabwe Holdings. The bank changed its name from Kingdom Bank to AfrAsia Bank Ltd and Kingdom Asset Management to AfrAsia Capital Management.

ABL Mauritius group chief executive officer, James Benoit, said apart from South Africa, AfrAsia Bank already has a stake in AfrAsia Zimbabwe Holdings Limited and is now looking at an East African presence through Kenya.

“With AfrAsia’s growing presence in the region and the increased volume of trade and investments going into Zimbabwe, we are committed to tap into the African market, which is instrumental in our plans to further identify and enhance the untapped synergies in the SADC region” said Benoit.

“We have chosen Zimbabwe because we believe it is among the top 10 growing African economies and there are opportunities for developing further. We strongly believes Zimbabwe is a resource-rich country where there is a strong entrepreneurial culture”.

Benoit said growing investments in Zimbabwe were also a source of hope.

“Our presence in this country will definitely enhance our banking adeptness in other parts of the region, enabling the AfrAsia Group to take advantage of existing and new growth opportunities in its key market segments.

“This will also help us to expand further our franchise in the SADC region through an established local operation and with highly credible local partners,” he said.

For the 2013 financial year, Benoit said, AfrAsia grew profits by 68 percent, in Mauritian rupees, while deposits were 39 percent greater. Keeping in mind that exceeding expectations is key to achieving strong results, the Banking Group will maintain efforts to sustain these growth rates for the present financial year in the markets it operates in.

“We are excited and quite optimistic of a brighter future for Zimbabwe and we will keep you our stakeholders updated of any material developments within the Group,” he said.

After establishing AfrAsia Bank Limited in Mauritius seven years ago as a leading financial institution benefiting from the burgeoning trade between Asia and Africa, the Banking Group has ambitions of becoming a bigger player in African countries.

May 2014
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