Cape Town, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 12 June 2009 – The Standard Bank of South Africa – Africa’s biggest bank by assets – and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) are working on a total of 60 mining and other deals on the African continent.
Revealing this in an interview here with Reuters, Standard Bank CEO Jacko Maree confirmed the bank’s belief that it was a good time to look for interesting opportunities abroad.
“There are 60 deals that we are working on with ICBC on the continent. They involve a wide range of opportunities from oil-related deals to mining-related transactions – a range of infrastructures,” Maree said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Africa summit in Cape Town.
“We’ve got plenty to do, but we also understand that this is a good time to keep your eyes open because something interesting might pop out of the woodwork.”
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China owns 20% of Standard Bank. The two firms said last month that they would finance the expansion of a coal power station in Botswana for US$825 million (R6.6 billion) over 20 years.
Standard Bank last month scaled back its full-year earnings expectations as trading conditions worsened, and Maree reiterated that 2009 was going to be a difficult year. “This is going to be a very tough year, I think for everybody, and hopefully things will start improving in 2010,” he said.
South Africa is battling with its first recession in 17 years and local banks have been hard hit by mounting bad debts at their retail and corporate units as consumers and corporates struggle to pay back loans after a series of interest rate hikes up to June 2008.