Standard Bank on the money

Stanbic Bank Towers in Kampala, Uganda.
The country is one of 18 on the African
continent where Standard Bank operates.
(Image: Skyscrapercity)

Janine Erasmus

South African financial institution Standard Bank is the Best Bank in Africa. The bank, which was established in 1862, took top honours in the African regional category for the second year running at the annual Euromoney Global Awards for Excellence, held in London in July 2008.

Standard Bank walked off with two other awards on the night – one for being the top bank in South Africa for 2008, and one awarded to its Stanbic IBTC Nigeria division as Best Bond House. Standard Bank trades as Stanbic Bank in a number of African countries.

“We are proud to be named winners of these three vital categories,” says Clive Tasker, CE of Standard Bank Africa division. “This award affirms the status of the Standard Bank Group as one of the world’s leaders in emerging markets and in Africa. We are gratified to have won the awards which we feel play a major part in portraying African markets and the prospects of the continent in a positive light,” he added.

UK-based Euromoney magazine, launched in 1969, has grown into one of the world’s most respected financial sector publications. The magazine comments on key developments in banking, emerging markets, foreign exchange, alternative investments, and other topics of interest to the world’s finance professionals.

The Euromoney Awards for Excellence are now in their 16th year and are widely considered to be the most prestigious in the financial services industry. Awards are made on global, continental and national levels, and there is a special category for emerging markets. Banks from around the world are invited to prepare submissions for the awards and those which make the shortlist are interviewed by the senior editorial team of Euromoney magazine.

Criteria such as top-quality service, outstanding performance, innovation, momentum and geographical coverage are taken into consideration. Euromoney uses public data sources such as Bloomberg and Capital Intelligence to rate entrants on size and market share.

Earlier in 2008 Standard Bank was named as the Emerging Markets’ Bank of the Year in Global Finance magazine’s annual “Best Emerging Market Banks in Africa” survey. In addition, its progressive workplace HIV/Aids programme was recognised internationally with two awards from The Global Business Coalition and

Not your average bank

In selecting Standard Bank as the continent’s top bank, Euromoney looked at its overall performance between 1 April 2007 and 21 March 2008. Besides its core business, the bank is involved in a number of key initiatives in Africa, among them the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund, the African Infrastructure Investment Fund and the South African Infrastructure Fund.

According to Standard Bank’s deputy CE Chris Newson, Africa has become more attractive for investors in recent years. Newson lists a number of reasons which include strong economic growth, improved political stability, debt forgiveness, attractive asset values, international liquidity coupled with decreased credit, and a commodities boom. All these factors, he says, have resulted in more investment as well as increased competition between financial institutions across the continent.

Newson attributes much of the increased economic activity in Africa to crucial infrastructure development. “Driven by a critical need for significant investment in transport, telecommunications, ports, resources, power and energy sectors, there are a number of very large projects on the go or at feasibility study stage,” he says.

In October 2007 Standard Bank sold 20% of its shareholding to China’s leading commercial bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which is also the world’s biggest bank in terms of market capitalisation. The deal, worth almost R37-billion ($4.8-billion), is the largest direct injection of foreign capital in South Africa to date.

Standard Bank trades in 38 countries around the world, which includes its operations in 18 African countries. The company views investment in local capacity as a key factor in the continued expansion of its global presence, as strong local teams ensure better understanding of the cultures, customers and communities it serves in different countries.

Serving the community

In terms of corporate social responsibility, Standard Bank is involved in a number of initiatives ranging from sport and arts sponsorship and a highly regarded art gallery to its Mindset Network, in which it partners with the Liberty and Nelson Mandela foundations. The Mindset Network is a non-profit organisation aimed at delivering better education to all South Africans by making vital resources such as content, training and equipment more accessible.

Standard Bank provides educational bursaries for previously disadvantaged individuals through various joint projects with the national Department of Education and other partners. The company has also entered into a partnership with the Department of Education to financially reward schools which improved their pass rate for Grade 12 higher grade mathematics between 2006 and 2007.

For the moment Standard Bank’s social responsibility strategy is focused largely on South Africa, but the company plans to spread it to other African countries once adequate progress has been made locally.

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