Standard Bank Group has been named Best Trade Bank in Africa, extending to six the number of recent accolades that recognise the group’s leading position in trade finance on the continent.
The latest award was made as part of its annual Excellence Awards by Trade Forfaiting Review (TFR), a leading global journal for all participants in trade and supply chain finance.
In recent months, Standard Bank Group has been recognised for five additional awards in the trade finance sector.
Global Trade Review (GTR) named Standard Bank as Best Trade Finance Bank in Sub-Saharan Africa for 2011. The same journal recognised Standard Bank Group for one of the Best Deals of 2011 for Standard Bank de Angola’s issuing the first Chinese Renminbi-denominated letter of credit – a landmark for the development of the Angolan trade finance market. The letter of credit was issued for Angolan construction company Huafeng – Construção e Engenharia.
Global Finance magazine named Standard Bank the Best Trade Finance Bank in South Africa and Africa in its 2012 trade finance awards. Trade Finance magazine’s Deal of the Year award went to Standard Bank for its role in arranging a US$260-million credit facility for Puma Energy, which refines, stores, transports and sells fuel products around the world. The same magazine named Standard Bank as Best Trade Bank in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Craig Polkinghorne, Standard Bank Group’s Head of Structured Trade and Commodity Finance, says receiving these awards from a number of independent sources is particularly rewarding in the context of the changing trade environment in Africa. The awards differ in that some publications reflect voting by that magazines’ client base, while others reflect the opinion of the major players in the trade finance industry.
“To be independently judged as successful through several awards is gratifying as it provides further evidence of Standard Bank’s traction in implementing its strategy in Africa. Placing the continent at our core and building our operations across Africa is an approach that we are confident will continue to deliver results,” he says.
Mr Polkinghorne adds that Africa’s booming commodities trade presents many opportunities and challenges that Standard Bank Group is well-placed to address.
“International commodity traders are increasingly turning to African banks to finance trade transactions as the uncertain global economic conditions, the Eurozone debt crisis and tougher capital requirements are forcing major global banks to pull back their lending in Africa. Furthermore, Standard Bank is well positioned to provide transactional solutions for companies trading with or in Africa.
“This is happening just as Africa’s trade continues to grow strongly across a broad front of geographies and commodity sectors. Natural resources, both within the oil and metals markets, and the buoyant agriculture sector continue to dominate trade on the continent,” says Mr Polkinghorne.
He says that Standard Bank Group’s presence and credibility on the continent can be seen in the number and nature of transactions where clients are choosing Africa’s largest bank for their trade finance requirements.
“An example of this trend can be seen in Standard Bank’s recent completion of a secured syndicated loan of US$250-million for the Tanzanian based Export Trading Group (ETG), one of Africa’s largest soft commodities companies.”
The funding will be used primarily to finance ETG’s procurement of agricultural commodities from traders and farmers in Africa, as well as further develop its infrastructure network across several countries and to help it expand further.
Mr Polkinghorne says that as lead arranger in this transaction, Standard Bank Group demonstrated the ability to mobilise funds from local and international financial institutions with which it enjoys strong relationships.
“The combination of our experience in investment banking, on-the-ground presence and local knowledge of African markets allows us to successfully execute structured transactions.”
He says an important change in growing Standard Bank Group’s share of the general trade finance market in Africa is that the bank is in a strong position in terms of its capital and liquidity position, making the bank competitive relative to its domestic and global competitors.
“Standard Bank’s healthy balance sheet, depth of expertise and on-the ground presence in key African commodity markets has enabled us to continue to increase lending in key commodity sectors on the continent.”
As the largest bank in Africa, we expect to continue playing a leading role in both trade finance and trade services, thereby strengthening trade not only within the continent but between African and other emerging markets.”