Citigroup Sees M&A Pickup in Africa

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Citigroup Reuters. People exit a Citibank branch in New York.

Johannesburg - Citigroup, the US lender scaling back in some emerging markets, plans to invest in Africa as it sees a pickup in merger and acquisition, debt and equity capital market deals on the continent.

The third-largest US lender by assets has a “new strategic plan for sub-Saharan Africa” with Nigeria, East Africa and South Africa as its top priorities, Jim Cowles, chief executive officer for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told reporters in Johannesburg today.

“On the growth in EMEA, we’re counting on Africa to be a major contributor,” Cowles said, declining to say how much the bank earns from Africa or how much it will invest.

Citigroup is among the international banks expanding across Africa as demand for assets rises and economic growth surges.

Barclays’ South African unit last month said its investment bank plans to extend brokerage, equity trading and other services into the rest of the continent as part of a plan to boost profit, while UBS AG, the world’s biggest wealth manager, is targeting millionaire clients in oil-rich Nigeria and Angola.

Citigroup also plans to expand its equity derivatives business in South Africa, Donna Oosthuyse, the bank’s country officer said.

The plan for Africa comes after Citigroup chief executive Michael Corbat last month said the bank should no longer be expected to offer clients unlimited financial services.

Corbat is trimming spending and selling assets after taking over from Vikram Pandit, who expanded New York-based Citigroup’s operations in emerging markets before directors ousted him in 2012.

Corbat, who was chief executive for EMEA before replacing Pandit, said the bank will continue cutting costs. - Bloomberg News

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