Mauritius-registered AfrAsia Bank today announced the start of an African regional expansion drive, with initial focus on South Africa.
AfrAsia Bank CEO James Benoit told a Sandton event to mark the opening of representative offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town that the bank has strong Indian connections and that Africa and South Africa are next on the list of its priorities.
Benoit noted: “AfrAsia Bank is believed to be the first bank to be launched specifically to facilitate business, investment, banking services and trade flows between the future powerhouses of Asia and Africa.
“Huge opportunities beckon and South Africa has an absolutely vital place in our strategic planning.”
AfrAsia Bank was founded in 2007 by Groupe Mon Loisir, one of the largest conglomerates in the Indian Ocean. Another shareholder is Trinity Financial Group, a listed Mauritian investment management and private equity company with Cape Town roots.
The bank’s ’boutique’ services focus on corporate and institutional banking, wealth management and private and partnership banking.
The bank also has a strategic partnership with India’s ICICI Bank, creating easy access to custodial services in India.
“Africa is becoming economically integrated with Asia,” said Benoit. “Trade facilitation between India and Africa is a growth area. Mauritius is the ideal conduit.
“Following the ‘white-listing’ of Mauritius by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the implementation of business-friendly policies, the island is becoming a second home for South African and international corporates looking for a springboard to Africa and Asia.
“We intend to capitalise on these opportunities through regional expansion, starting in South Africa.”
Services in support of asset managers are viewed as one growth area.
Benoit explained: “With its massive domestic market and huge export/import volumes, India is an attractive investment destination with growing appeal for South African asset managers.
“These managers can use AfrAsia Bank to access Indian stock exchanges and benefit from fiscal incentives.”
AfrAsia Bank is also positioned to help South Africans looking to invest their offshore allowances. Project finance and residential property development are additional growth areas.
Benoit added: “Opportunities are boundless into and out of Mauritius. We will be introducing more and more South Africans to these opportunities in the months to come.”