Durban: AfrAsia Bank, the cross-border bank with its roots in Mauritius, has expanded its operations in South Africa with the launch of an office in Durban last week. The company offers a comprehensive international banking platform to companies and individuals who have investments in Africa and outside the continent. It focuses primarily on linking Africa with Asia. The banking group opened its doors in Mauritius in 2007 and entered the South African market two years ago with offices in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
James Benoit, the chief executive of AfrAsia, said the group had discovered there were a lot of people in the country who had investments in Mauritius and who used the island as their second holiday home. There was also a group that used Mauritius as a platform to structure its outbound investments. He declined to disclose names of some of its clients as they were private bank customers.
'Durban is one of the most important cities in South Africa and the opening of an office there is indeed the next logical step for us after Johannesburg and Cape Town. We believe that the South African economy offers great potential going forward and it is indeed a strategic decision to increase our presence and exposure to this country,' Benoit said.
AfrAsia is owned by GML Group of Mauritius, the Dale Capital Group, a private equity firm in South Africa, Intrasia Capital of Singapore and Proparco of Europe.
Benoit said that the banking group was considering a black economic empowerment deal, but there was nothing firm at the moment. The entire group has close to $700 million (R4.9 billion) in total deposits. Benoit said about 20 percent of private client deposits were from South Africa.
As part of its expansion plans, the bank is looking at opening up a marketing office in Singapore and it is exploring some opportunities in the Common Market for Eastern (Comesa) and Southern Africa and Southern African Development Community (SADC) regions.
Kamben Padayachy, the head of global banking, treasury and markets at AfrAsia, said: 'Asia and Africa are the two continents that are driving the global economy these days. Furthermore, as the economies of China and India expand, we are seeing an increasing appetite from these countries for Africa’s natural resources, and this is driving the expansion of trade and investment flows between these two continents.
'Mauritius is naturally poised to play an important role in facilitating these flows with its network of double taxation agreements and its membership of the SADC and Comesa trade zones. Mauritius also shares important cultural ties with India, China and Africa,' said Padayachy.