Standard Chartered Bank Folds Operations in Seven African Countries Including Sierra Leone

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By Amin Kef Sesay

As set out during its full year 2021 results presentation, Standard Chartered PLC is accelerating its strategy to deliver efficiencies, reduce complexity and drive scale. On the 14th April 2022 the Group announces a set of actions to redirect resources within its Africa and Middle East (“AME”) region to those areas where it can have the greatest scale and growth potential, in order to better support its clients.

Subject to regulatory approval, the Group now intends to exit onshore operations in seven markets in AME and in a further two markets focus solely on its Corporate, Commercial and Institutional Banking (“CCIB”) business.

The Group has invested heavily in recent years in the AME region including fundamentally transforming its digital capabilities in its African markets. It has also been expanding its footprint to cover some of the largest and fastest growing economies, having recently opened its first branch in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and obtained preliminary approval for a banking license in the Arab Republic of Egypt.

The seven markets where there will be a full exit of operations are Angola, Cameroon, Gambia, Jordan, Lebanon, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe.

In Tanzania and Cote d’Ivoire, the Consumer, Private and Business Banking businesses will be exited and the focus will turn solely to CCIB.

The Group remains focused on serving its clients where it can make the most impact. The Group will continue to serve corporate and institutional clients and facilitate cross-border capital flows and offshore business in all the above markets from its international network.

The Group is currently present in 59 markets and serves clients in a further 83. The markets that will be exited generated around one per cent of total Group 2021 income and a similar proportion of profit before tax.

Standard Chartered Group CEO, Bill Winters, said: “As we set out earlier in the year, we are sharpening our focus on the most significant opportunities for growth while also simplifying our business. We remain excited by a number of opportunities we see in the AME region, as illustrated by our new markets, but remain disciplined in our assessment of where we can deliver significantly improved shareholder returns. Collectively, our actions will position the AME franchise for the next phase of growth after a very strong 2021 performance. We are grateful to our colleagues and partners in each of these impacted markets for their hard work and dedication and are committed to supporting them through this transition.”

Lamin Manjang, Chief Executive of Standard Chartered Nigeria and West Africa Cluster, said: “It has been a very tough decision and not one that was taken lightly. We have served in Sierra Leone for 128 years and while we transition the Bank to new ownership, we are keen to ensure that the process is smooth for our clients, staff and other stakeholders. This decision is not a reflection on the performance of the Bank in Sierra Leone or the macroeconomic situation of the country. We will work closely with colleagues, clients and stakeholders to minimise disruption whilst we transition to new ownership.

We are proud of our presence in Africa and the Middle East and remain committed to serving our many customers across the Region”.

There will be no change to how the Group reports these businesses for the first quarter 2022 results. Changes to their presentation will be shown at the half year 2022 results.

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