ICB Banking Group spreads its wings in Africa
Why did you choose Eastern Europe and Africa to launch
We launched into Eastern Europe and Africa a decade ago
as a result of the opportunities that presented themselves at
the time. Malaysian entrepreneurs were being encouraged to
expand their horizons and set their sights on global opportunities,
and the opening of these particular markets and changes
in the investment environment provided an opportunity for the
ICB Banking Group.
In which African countries do you operate, and how have
those businesses performed?
We are in six African countries: Ghana, Republic of Guinea,
Tanzania, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Gambia. We have
15 retail outlets in Africa and a clear strategy for opening
further retail outlets in each of the markets we are in. In 2004
alone, some of our Banks saw asset growth of up to 60%.
Therefore we are very optimistic about the future prospects of
the banks in Africa and we are keen to
expand the business
What is so attractive about African Banking?
The returns on investment in Africa are relatively good if one
can manage risk. However, the most compelling reason for
our presence in Africa is that it is the place where investments
are needed. There is great satisfaction among our shareholders
when they can see how their investments are making a
difference in the host countries and how our banks actually
provide a meaningful service to our customers.
How would you describe your customer profile in the
Our customer profile depends on the type of market we are
in. Generally we concentrate on commercial banking and we
have a full range of banking services from deposits and loans
to foreign exchange and trade financing. We have a special
focus on small and medium-sized businesses, but there
is a growing group of middle-income individuals which has
enabled the banks to introduce
consumer-type loans ranging
from housing to personal loans. This is our other
area of focus.
Give us an idea of your future prospects and growth strategies.
We expect to expand our Banking operations to another five
African countries during the next three years. Furthermore,
we intend to continue to horizontally expand our presence
by opening new retail outlets in each of the markets we are
in. Growth has been mainly organic but we have now started
looking at acquisitions, particularly where we have been established
for a number of years.
Your investment holding company is based in Zurich, yet
your management is based in Kuala Lumpur. Why is that
and how does that affect your operations?
Switzerland is an established financial centre with strong ratings
and is in a time zone that is suitable for our African and
European Banks. It also provides favourable conditions for
companies that choose to establishtheir Holding
Management of each individual Bank is based in the
country in which it operates. There is an experienced and
competent management team running the operations of each
Technical support is provided by a team under the auspices
of ICB Global Management which is based in Kuala Lumpur.
To further strengthen our support structure, we have set up a
Regional Centre in West Africa.
What would you tell international investors, including
Malaysians, about prospects for investment in Africa?
We believe that Africa provides exciting opportunities for
investors who are looking for new markets and believe in
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