AfrAsia eyes expansion, makes new hires

AfrAsia eyes expansion, makes new hires

Published: January 7, 2013

Mauritian banking group hires new senior executives as CEO Benoit plans for further pan-African growth.

Mauritian banking group AfrAsia could seal a deal to enter Kenya this year, chief executive officer James Benoit tells EMEA Finance.

The group has already expanded rapidly since it was set up five years ago. Last year it paid US$9.5mn for a 35% stake in Zimbabwe’s Kingdom Financial Holdings, which runs banking, brokerage and asset management businesses. It’s also present in South Africa, where it owns a stake in a corporate finance boutique in Cape Town and has representative offices in Johannesburg and Durban.

Now Benoit and his colleagues see long-term opportunity in Tanzania, where the CEO expects eventually to enter an alliance with a local firm. Of more immediate promise, however, is Kenya. Benoit says that AfrAsia has received several expressions of interest from financial institutions keen to strike a deal with the Mauritian group.

“Maybe Kenya looks overbanked to the average observer and, depending on your business model, it could be,” Benoit says. “But the nature of the partnerships we’ve been approached about look interesting and we’re trying to sort out what we’ll do there.”

Benoit expects a deal to be agreed this year, adding: “The interesting thing with Kenya is that it serves two or three countries around it, so you get a triple-play depending on which institution you partner with.”

In preparation for continued expansion, the group has made several new appointments in its senior executive teams.

David Wells, who has held roles with Standard Chartered Bank and Barclays, has joined as head of private banking for East Africa. The group has also hired two ex-Standard Bank bankers – Rob Smither joins as regional head of corporate banking based in Johannesburg, and Parikshat Tulsidas has been hired to run African treasury, markets and financial institution group relationships.