U.S.-based Citigroup, Other Banks Expanding In Africa

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Written by Dana Sanchez

When Citigroup Inc. CEO Michael Corbat said in March the lender may exit or scale back business in 21 countries, he wasn’t talking about Africa, according to a Bloomberg report in IndependentOnline.

Anticipating increased sales in Africa this year, the U.S.-based lender is hiring staff there, particularly for its custody and clearing operations. It plans to transform its Ghanaian operation from a representative office to a currency trading operation, the report said.

“We expect Africa revenues to grow and to grow from our client business,” said Citigroup’s South Africa head, Donna Oosthuyse. “We’ve had a couple of good years in trading because of low interest rates and the rebound in equities.”

Banks including Standard Chartered, Barclays and FirstRand are expanding in Africa, the report said. Countries including Nigeria and Ghana are growing faster than developed nations.

As much as 70 percent of U.S. companies operating in South Africa also have a presence in 10 other African countries on average, according to Oosthuyse.

Citigroup does not offer consumer banking in Africa, but is involved in project financing and business and investment banking.