The UK banking group Standard Chartered is planning to exit Angola, Cameroon, Gambia, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe.
It will also leave its consumer, private and small business banking operations in Tanzania and Côte d’Ivoire, focusing instead on corporate, commercial and institutional clients.
Standard Chartered will refocus its Africa and Middle East franchise on what it sees as high-growth markets, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Operating profit in 2021 for Standard Chartered in the Middle East and Africa rose to $856m, the highest level since 2015.
“We remain excited by a number of opportunities we see in the Africa and the Middle East region, as illustrated by our new markets, but remain disciplined in our assessment of where we can deliver significantly improved shareholder returns,” said Standard Chartered Group CEO Bill Winters.
In March, Standard Chartered’s Kenya operation was reported to be refocusing on the retail market.
“Now we are able to grow at scale on the mass retail segment and really be able to reach not just thousands but millions of customers because of the enablement of technology,” CEO Kariuki Ngari told an investor call, after announcing a 68% jump in 2021 profit.
UK Banks exit Africa?
It is not the first British bank in recent times to leave Africa.
Atlas Mara Ltd, listed on the London Stock Exchange, purchased banks in seven African countries in recent years. After what it called ‘challenging’ market conditions, Atlas Mara is currently in the process of exiting those investments.
In 2016, Barclays left Africa, selling off a 62.3% stake in Barclays Africa Group.
Growth in the continent continues to lag the post-pandemic recovery seen in other parts of the world, with 17 countries in Africa facing debt restructuring in 2020.
The World Bank warns of twin food and fuel shocks causing civil strife in a recent report. From March 2021 to February 2022, more than four out of five countries in Africa experienced year-on-year food inflation exceeding 5%, while nearly half recorded double-digit food inflation.
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