South African Standard Bank to refocus on underserved African continent

South African Standard BankFollowing news of Standard Bank CEO Jacko Maree’s plan to retire, Sim Tshabalala and Ben Kruger, who will serve as the bank’s joint CEOs, vowed to center its African focus.

“There is a wall of liquidity and capital coming through the African continent,” Tshabalala said, according to Reuters. “But to win, we need to ramp up our Africanness.”

During Maree’s 13-year tenure as CEO, Standard Bank boosted its overseas presence and launched branches all across Africa. While the aggressive expansion was widely praised, Maree’s attempts to expand into other emerging markets, including Argentina, Russia and Turkey, has been criticized as a costly move for the bank, which has minimized its ambitions outside of Africa.  

Additionally, under Maree, the bank sold a 20 percent stake to China’s Industrial and Commercial Bank, a deal that underscored China’s expanding role in the bank’s quest to profit from trade with Asia, Reuters reports.

Kruger said that the bank, which has 17 operations in Africa, was not set on immediate acquisitions across the continent.

“We are not anti-small acquisitions but have nothing on the horizon that we are contemplating,” Kruger said, according to Reuters.

South African banks have sharpened their focus on operations across Africa, where the number of individuals without access to banking and other financial services tends to be higher than in their home country.

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