Editor’s note: Incorporated in 2001, Standard Bank Mauritius is a fully owned subsidiary of Standard Bank Group, the largest bank in Africa in terms of assets, valued at $143 billion at end-2016. In operation for over 150 years, today Standard Bank has established a vast continental network that includes 20 African nations and operates an expanding presence across key emerging markets. In 2008, Standard Bank took this global ambition a step further by selling a 20.1% stake to the Beijing-based Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), encapsulating a strategic partnership that is positioned to support trade and deal flows between Africa, China and emerging markets. Daniel Ng Tseung, Standard Bank Mauritius’ Head of Corporate Banking and Transactional Products and Services, explains the benefits of Mauritius to The Business Report’s Marie Leclercq.
How is Standard Bank uniquely qualified to handle cross-border business from Asia to Africa?
Standard Bank is not just the largest bank in Africa by assets; we are also the number one liquidity provider for African currencies. Through our 154 years of operation, we have built an unrivaled network across our continent that enables our stakeholders to access deep, on-the-ground market intelligence and benefit from strong local relationships essential to running a successful business in Africa. These core capabilities are further supported by our partnership with China’s ICBC, which owns a 20.1% stake of Standard Bank Group, and will continue to help us guide our clients into the continent.
Why is Mauritius an ideal base for conducting cross-border transactions?
Mauritius has been consistently ranked number one in Sub-Saharan Africa in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index, and continues to enjoy one of the best sovereign credit ratings in the region, with Moody’s recently reaffirming a Baa1 and stable rating. Mauritius is also a well-diversified economy that has achieved growth despite the global economic slowdown, a resilience that is perceived throughout the country’s financial services sector.
What makes Mauritius’ financial ecosystem a distinctly competitive conduit for those looking to do business in Africa?
Standard Bank believes that Mauritius’ reputation for the ease of doing business combined with no exchange controls continue to be prime reasons why investors use the island as a financial conduit. Good governance, and political and economic stability are other reasons often cited by our clients. This may sound simplistic, but these conditions are essential for any company looking to operate efficiently.
What type of engagement do Chinese clients have with your Mauritius subsidiary today?
Standard Bank Mauritius is supporting Chinese clients that are operating in the local economy, but our main objective is to encourage the use of our subsidiary as a bridge to Africa. In this regard, we are advising our Chinese clients of Standard Bank and ICBC of the benefits of the Mauritius jurisdiction as a gateway, and we have witnessed increased interest through our representative offices in Beijing and Hong Kong, as well as via our partners from ICBC.
How do you remain competitive with banking technologies?
Standard Bank Group is now completing the implementation of one of the most efficient core banking systems in the markets where we operate so that our clients can experience a seamless and superior level of service across Africa. We also employ an online banking platform that is constantly being upgraded with additional functionalities.
Why do you believe that Mauritius will continue to be an ideal destination for Chinese investment and financial operations within the Maritime Silk Road project?
Mauritius is on its way to becoming a popular jurisdiction for investments going into Africa. Moreover, the country’s air corridor initiative is also very much aligned to the Maritime Silk Road project and will enhance the reputation of Mauritius as an international financial center.