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After 130 years, Standard Chartered exits Zim

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International banking group, Standard Chartered PLC, will exit seven markets including Zimbabwe as it redirects its resources within the Africa and Middle East (AME) region to where it has the greatest scale.

The exit, which is subject to regulatory approval, will see the bank quitting Zimbabwe, Angola, Cameroon, Gambia, Jordan, Lebanon and Sierra Leone.

In Tanzania and Cote d’Ivoire, the consumer, private and business banking will be exited and the focus will turn solely to corporate, commercial and institutional banking.

The group is currently present in 59 markets and serves clients in a further 83. The markets that will be exited generated around 1% of total group 2021 income and a similar proportion of profit before tax, it 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,” Standard Chartered Group CEO, Bill Winters said.

“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.”

In Zimbabwe, Standard Chartered has been the oldest bank, having begun operations in 1892.

Its exit will be a blow to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra.

In the past, there have been rumours of the bank’s plans to exit Zimbabwe with the latest being 2017.

However, Standard Chartered Bank Zimbabwe CEO Ralph Watungwa dismissed the rumours saying the bank was “here to stay”.

“For those of you that doubt the conviction of the bank; we have invested so much in this country in excess of US$10m [in branch refurbishments],” he said.

“We cannot invest this amount of money and walk away. That’s not possible.

“So any reporter who is here, please don’t ask me whether we are going to run away. We are not going to run away. We are here for good, for the long run.

“Here for good means three things: here for good as in pleasure, as in longevity and as a promise.”

Standard Chartered’s pay off line is here for good.

Watungwa said the bank would not run away as it also “wants to be part of the solution for this country”.

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