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Citibank Sees Potential For Expansion in South Africa

by Carla Johnson, InvestorsOffshore.com

31 May 2001


Citibank, part of the global financial services giant, Citigroup, is said to be looking to expand its commercial presence in South Africa following recent changes to the South African banking legislation which lifted the ban on foreign banks accepting deposits of less than R1 million (approx. USD$125,620) from individuals.

The bank, which is also looking to expand into corporate advisory work and equities stated recently that South Africa was one of its 20 'priority countries' out of the 100 or so in which it has a presence. Citibank's South African VP for strategic planning, Donna Nemer Oosthuyse explained the reasoning behind the country's inclusion in Citibank's wish list: 'South Africa is one of the few emerging markets which offers the potential for Citigroup to have a full franchise.'

However, Marcus Andrade, Citibank South Africa's managing director, cautioned that the move into retail banking was still under discussion, although if the group's assessment of the retail market proves favourable, Citibank will most likely focus on the upper end of the individual market. The corporate expansion, however, looks set to go ahead soon, with the emphasis on equities and mergers and acquisitions advisory work. The aim, according to Mr Andrade, is to capture a little more of the South African market each year, and unlike most other foreign banks, which concentrate primarily on top end corporate finance, broking and trading, Citibank has positioned itself as more of a commercial bank which should allow it to achieve its softly-softly expansion plans more easily.

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