Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Standard Bank (SBK), one of South Africa’s so-called "big four" banks, has announced plans to enhance its custody product offering in sub-Saharan Africa through the creation of a regional custody network.

"The objective is to provide a comprehensive custody and settlement service in Africa. The network will leverage off Standard Bank’s experience and technology in South Africa to improve service delivery and reduce operational risks across Africa," says Sim Tshabalala, Managing Director of Stanbic Africa, Standard Bank’s Africa operations.

The regional network is in response to client feedback on what they require from a sub-Saharan custody and settlement bank and is directly aligned with the overall strategy adopted by the bank in late 2002, says David Price, Director of Standard Bank’s Financial Asset Services (FAS).

"One of the major concerns of investors has been the poor performance of custody and settlement service providers within sub-Saharan Africa.

Although volumes are generally small relative to South Africa, indifferent performance in these markets has created a significant workload for our clients. This situation impacts investor’s views on service quality and performance," says Price.

"Global custodians will deal directly with Standard Bank in South Africa. South Africa will in turn action all instructions through the use of shared technology with the individual countries," explains Adam Bateman, Head of Product and Business Development, FAS.

"The network’s SWIFT capability will be similar to that of South Africa and clients will have one point of contact, or a relationship manager, to handle all trade related and post settlement issues.

"A network operational support team will be established in Johannesburg to provide certain centralised functions. In addition, Standard Bank will offer comprehensive facilities for all foreign exchange and cash processing requirements as part of the network solution."

Augustine Kwakye-Agyekum has been appointed network manager responsible for all due diligence within the respective countries. Kwakye-Agyekum, based in Johannesburg, will also act as liaison between the various country operations and the central hub located in Johannesburg.

For the past nine years, Kwakye-Agyekum has played a key role in supporting client interests in the sub-Saharan African markets.

Standard Bank’s initial focus will be on Kenya, Nigeria, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe, with the goal of having a substantial part of the network in place by the end of 2003.

The remaining markets will be converted to the network during the first quarter of 2004. During this year the group also plans to launch custody operations in Malawi through Commercial Bank of Malawi.

With over 800 billion rand in assets under custody, Standard Bank currently provides custody, trustee, securities lending and accounting related services to institutional investors in Botswana, Kenya, Ghana, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.