US Lender Citigroup Invests In African Mergers Acquisitions

US Lender Citigroup Invests In African Mergers Acquisitions

Citigroup Inc., the third-largest U.S. lender by assets, has a new strategic plan for sub-Saharan Africa with Nigeria, East Africa and South Africa its top priorities, the company announced this week, according to a Bloomberg report in CrainsNewYork.

The lender is scaling back in some emerging markets, but plans to invest in Africa as it sees a pickup in mergers and acquisitions as well as debt and equity capital market deals on the continent.

Jim Cowles, Citigroup officer for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told reporters in Johannesburg Wednesday, “On the growth in (Europe, the Middle East and Africa), we’re counting on Africa to be a major contributor,” Bloomberg reports.

Cowles did not say how much the bank earns from Africa or how much it will invest.

Citigroup joins other international banks expanding across Africa as demand for assets rises and economic growth surges, Bloomberg reports. Barclays Plc’s South African unit said in January its investment bank plans to extend brokerage, equity trading and other services into the rest of the continent to boost profit. UBS AG, the world’s largest wealth manager, is targeting wealthy clients in oil-rich Nigeria and Angola.

Citigroup also plans to expand its equity derivatives and transaction services businesses in
South Africa, according to Donna Oosthuyse, the bank’s country officer.

The plan for Africa was announced after Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat said in January that the bank would stop offering clients unlimited financial services. Corbat is trimming
spending and selling assets after taking over from Vikram Pandit, who expanded New York-based Citigroup’s operations in emerging markets before directors fired him in 2012.

Corbat was CEO for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region before replacing Pandit. The bank will continue cutting costs, he said.

Citigroup’s African operations growth has been attractive, said Cowles, who is
visiting five African countries including Tanzania and Kenya. While the bank isn’t
expanding into new countries, it will be boosting its balance sheet in 11
sub-Saharan countries where it operates and also investing in people and technology, Cowles said.

Cowles and Citigroup’s North American CEO, Bill Mills, are visiting clients, regulators and staff throughout Africa. The bank has operations in 101 countries; 55 of them are in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The company plans to also focus on Russia, the U.A.E. and Turkey, Bloomberg reports.