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Business News of Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Source: B&FT

Stanchart upbeat over local market

Standard Chartered Bank Ghana Limited says it is bullish about the economy, and as a result has substantial ambitions in the country.

The bank's office in Ghana ranks among the top-three in Africa, contributing about GH¢200million in earnings to the Group.

The Bank's Chief Executive Office for Africa, Diana Layfield, stated Stanchart's position in an interaction with financial journalists in Accra.

The Africa CEO, who was on a working visit to Ghana, interacted with government officials, staff of the bank, and journalists.

She said: "The good thing about Ghana is that you can be pretty positive across the board. There are opportunities across the board in the country. You can compare the Ghana market with any other market across the world."

"We have substantial ambitions, and l think our optimism was well-enshrined in our meeting with the Vice President ( Kwesi Amissah-Arthur) and the Minister of Finance (Seth Terpker).

"They articulated an incredibly compelling vision for the country, and have a balanced sense of how to manage the economy and operate together. And for us, this is very much reassuring."

Consequently, it is opening 28 branches over the next two years in an extension of branches and ATMS.

Already, the bank has invested US$10million in opening new branches and upgrading existing ones.

"The growth-sustainability in Ghana is very strong. The wholesale banking opportunity in Ghana is very substantial, not only in the existing sectors like telecoms and consumer goods. We believe that the SME sector is thriving. The oil and gas sector offers significant more opportunities. "

With regard to wholesale banking, Stanchart last year provided US$504million support in that area, representing a 38.5 percent growth over the previous year.

The Bank has for over 16 years been given the mandate as lead arranger for COCOBOD's loan syndication to fund cocoa purchases for export from Ghana. Last year, the bank successfully led the syndication of a US$2billion facility to COCOBOD, an oversubscription from the initial amount of US$1.75billion.

She said the SMEs sector will receive enormous attention, even though she did not disclose how much resources would be directed to the sector.

In 2011, the bank provided US$150million worth of credit to the sector, and it serves over 17,000 SME clients in the country.

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