A Very Good Year For Standard Bank As It Expands In Africa

A Very Good Year For Standard Bank As It Expands In Africa

From WallStreetJournal. Story by Matina Stevis.

Standard Bank Group Ltd., Africa’s biggest lender by assets, recorded a 12 percent rise in net profit in 2014 as it continued to dispose of business outside the continent.

The Johannesburg-based bank said net profit rose to 15.93 billion rand ($1.35 billion) from 14.26 billion rand in 2013, on a 1 percent rise in group headline earnings to 17.32 billion rand in the year ended Dec. 31. Noninterest revenue climbed 14 percent from 2013 to 39 billion rand.

Shares in the bank were up 5 percent at 156.35 rand in early afternoon trading.

In February, the lender completed the sale of 60 percent of its London-based business to the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. , a key bloc of its strategy to expand in Africa. In its statement, it said it would also sell its Brazilian operation in 2015.

Banks in Africa are positioning to take advantage of growth in the continent’s middle classes, which are amassing savings and requiring more sophisticated financial services. Standard Bank recorded a 22-percent increase in commercial deposits across Africa in 2014 alone. The lender’s decision to sharpen its focus on Africa indicates the potential it sees there.

Read more at WallStreetJournal.