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07.04.2007 General News

Banks in Ghana make poor showing

By myjoyonline

Only three Ghanaian banks found their way into the best 100 banks on the Continent and of the three, the best performer is the Standard Chartered Bank, Ghana, ranked 66th.

Ghana Commercial Bank which comes next is Africa's 81st top bank followed by SG•SSB at 87.

Leading the pack as Africa's topmost bank is the Standard Bank Group of South Africa, followed by four other SA banks ABSA Group, Nedbank Group, Investec and FirstRand Banking Group in that order.

The remaining places in the top 25 are filled by Moroccan (led by Attijariwafabank), Egyptian (National Bank of Egypt), Nigerian (UBA and Intercontinental Bank), Algerian (Banque Exterieur d'Algerie) Tunisian (Societe Tunisienne de Banque) and the Mauritius Commercial Bank.

Despite the presence of the parent companies of a number of the Nigerian banks in Ghana in the top rankings, those rankings are for the Nigerian operations only.

The 2006 top 100 African banks ranking has revealed, according to the Africa Business Magazine, that the continent is belatedly but determinedly following the global trend towards consolidation. The watchword is 'big is beautiful.'

South African banks, which are by far the largest in Africa both in terms of capital and asset, have been consolidating for years. Nigeria has just gone through a frenzied two-year period of mergers and acquisition, when the dust had settled, only two dozen banks remained standing.

More mergers & acquisitions are on the way as are partnerships with strong overseas financial institutions.

African Business ranking for top 100 African Banks was based on shareholder's funds (Tier 1 capital) as defined by the Switzerland Based Bank for International settlement (BIS).

The African market continues to present both opportunities and challenges for strategic investors and nowhere is this better reflected (than in the area of the financial services industry. Economic growth in Africa is projected to exceed 5% this year and next, thus conditions are ripe for well managed banks to perform strongly. Consolidation (as recently in Nigeria) is needed as a number of markets remain over banked.

The rationale for mergers and acquisitions is that the larger banks can exploit economies of scale, reduce costs and provide their clients, both retail and corporate, with new and more efficient services; Including Internet banking and electronic payment.

In 2005, South African banks accounted for three-quarter of sub-Saharan Africa's total core capital and a massive 83 percent and 72 percent respectively, of aggregate financial assets and pre-tax profits. Over the next decade, Nigerian banks should represent a larger share of aggregate Tier 1 capital thanks to vastly increased capitalization of the 25 mega banking groups.

However, non-performing loans continued to be a problem in Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Nigeria, among others. The Central Bank of Nigeria has formed an assets management company to recover bad debts and minimize budgetary costs.

By and large, Africa's rating is improving in the international financial community. Some 28 African banks were included in the UK's The Bankers magazine's 2006 listing of the world's 1,000 strongest banks. Standard Bank led at number 118, followed by Nedbank (165) and Investec (189).

Nine Nigerian banks were in the top 1,OOO (none in 2003), led by First Bank (784), Union Bank (797), and Zenith International Bank (857). In North Africa, Attijariwafabank (355), National bank of Egypt (377) and Credit Populaire du Maroc (428) were also ranked among the world's strongest banks.

Standard bank

Rooted In Africa and with strategic representation in key sub-Saharan markets, the bank group is a regional banking force with a global sweep.

The group delivers its service in 18 African countries and extends to 21 countries outside of Africa with an emerging market focus, including the key financial centres of Europe, the United States and Asia.

Standard Bank, which has been part of the fabric of South Africa for the past 143 years, has established itself as a leader in banking technology for the personal and business markets in South Africa. The corporate and investment banking division has consistently ranked in successive peer survey as the South African market leader.

In addition to its banking operations, Standard Bank enjoys a strategic interest in the insurance industry through control of the Liberty Group, one of Africa's leading life offices and financial services groups.

At 31st December 2006 the group had assets of R978 billion and employed more than 42200 people world wide.

Standard Bank's Africa banking operations have one of the biggest single networks of banking services in Africa. Its international operations outside South Africa are centred in London, with operations in most of the major centres.

Standard bank supports corporate social investment projects in every African country in which it operates. Its social investment programme focuses on key development areas such as education, health and entrepreneurship.

Credit: dailyEXPRESS