Absa goes French to woo Chinese
Absa and French multinational Société Générale (SocGen) are working on a deal to collaborate across 27 African countries with an eye to securing lucrative Chinese business on the continent, the companies said on Friday.
The banks penned a memorandum of understanding to roll out a commercial agreement and provide services to large clients across the continent, they said in a joint statement.
The move comes as Absa, no longer controlled by UK-based Barclays, repositions itself for growth in Africa.
SocGen brings much of the French-speaking parts of North and West Africa to the table, while Absa offers the southern region and East Africa.
The banks said that together they could offer "a wider range of banking products and services to international and domestic corporate clients and financial institutions with operations in Africa".
But SocGen's strong presence in the Far East is the real carrot, as the agreement includes a combined offering dedicated to Chinese companies operating in Africa.
SocGen already caters to Chinese businesses at 11 of its African units, while Absa will set up China desks in more African countries to add to the services it provides in SA.
"The agreement we have entered into should go a long way to enable our clients to do business in Africa regardless of where they want to do business," said Absa CEO Maria Ramos.
SocGen, pulling back from several markets around the globe, will also sell most of its South African business to Absa.
"The transaction allows Absa to re-establish a firm foothold in the custody and trustee services market," Ramos said.
Absa sold an established custody and trustee business six years ago to align itself with the plans of its British parent.
"One can expect more of these type of developments," said Gryphon Asset Management portfolio manager Casparus Treurnicht.
He added that Absa was trying to win back business it lost in the years under Barclays.