Standard Bank Group of South Africa leads the banking pack in Africa

Standard Bank Group of South Africa leads the banking pack in Africa

Africa’s biggest bank by assets, Standard Bank Group, has retained its seat at the top of the banking pack in Africa.

This was revealed in a 2021 annual survey pitting the top 100 banks in Africa conducted by global publication Group, IC Publications, through its leading publication, African Business. IC Publications has over 50 years’ experience in publishing magazines, newsletters, country supplements, industry reports and market intelligence on Africa.

The survey ranks Africa’s banks according to their Tier 1 capital which consists of capital + reserves + retained earnings + minority interests. These are published in local currencies and then converted into US$ at the exchange rates at the year-end date in the results (or on 31 December 2020).

Standard Bank Group retained pole position for the second time in a row on the back of massive growth in its tier 1 capital of 24% to $13.8bn in December 2020. The Group, which wholly owns Stanbic Bank Zimbabwe, shrugged off competition from other leading banks in Africa despite the fact that the South African economy was hit the hardest by COVID 19 due to existing weaknesses and strict nationwide lockdowns.

A statement from African Business said other countries were not as badly affected by COVID 19 as initially feared, buoyed by government support programmes including credit, loan-guarantee schemes and delaying repayments.

The statement noted that Standard Bank’s retail and corporate banking clients received a total of R154bn ($10bn) in pandemic crisis relief. All the big South African banks implemented a government-backed credit extension programme for small to medium-sized enterprises.

“Banks adapted fast to new means of working and working from home, and now have many opportunities to restrain their operating costs and to invest carefully in IT. Reserves were also boosted after banking regulators in many economies told banks not to pay their usual generous dividends so they would have the cash to support clients through the pandemic,” said the statement.

The large reserves that many banks built up may be an arsenal of investment firepower to spend on new opportunities.

“Our view is post-pandemic there are going to be vast opportunities to grow,” said Standard Bank’s CEO Sim Tshabalala in March 2021 when he announced the December 2020 results. The dividend was slashed to R2.40, from the previous year’s R9.94. Tshabalala said new opportunities included accelerating digitisation, investing in non-banking activities and adding new businesses.

National Bank of Egypt climbed two places to come in second place […]

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