Zim financial services company set for expansion with new offices in Joburg, New York

Bard Santner chief executive Senziwani Sikhosana

Bard Santner chief executive Senziwani Sikhosana

Published Feb 20, 2024


While most Zimbabwean companies were downsizing to survive renewed economic headwinds amid currency volatility and high inflation, Bard Santner Inc - a Harare-based financial services firm - is bucking the trend through expansion, opening offices in New York and Johannesburg.

Bard Santner recently opened their new offices in New York at the world’s biggest financial hub in a bid to tap into huge capital, investment and transaction opportunities offshore.

Bard Santner opened its first overseas offices on the 85th floor of the One World Trade Center. The firm has banking relationships with JP Morgan and Citibank

It now plans to open offices in Sandton, Johannesburg, in a move to consolidate its South Africa remittance operations through agents as it seeks to mobilise capital for investment and tailor transactions for clients in the region.

“This is an exciting time for us, especially considering that the US has the world's largest venture capital market.

“Naturally, we are eager to tap into this vast potential. The ultimate goal is to become the preferred partner for companies and other organisations operating in the dynamic and rapidly evolving SADC marketplace,” said Bard Santner chief executive Senziwani Sikhosana speaking from New York.

Bard Santner is chaired by Mauritian-based Vino Bussawah, with four local Zimbabwean directors and the firm currently has a presence in Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mauritius and South Africa.

It says its new networks not only provide financial benefits, but also strategic advantages for its New York operations, especially in facilitating investment and financial transactions.

Through these linkages, the firm gains deeper access to investment opportunities and innovative financial tools, further supporting its offshore expansion drive.

Bard Santner has interests in corporate finance, asset management, wealth management, remittances, and commodity trading.

It also has plans to venture into commodity trading from Asian countries and also provide advisory services from the New York office.

The advisory firm will focus on helping businesses in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region to raise capital and facilitate investment.

“We decided to come here because our economies in SADC have significant growth opportunities for global capital. Given that reality, our view is that we should have a presence in the financial hubs of global capital, which includes New York, Shanghai, London, and so on,” said Sikhosana.

"Of course, in the region we are already in Johannesburg, but we will soon open proper offices there as it is the regional financial hub”.

Sikhosana said Bard Santner was well-placed in the region and overseas to offer channels for capital movements and investment.

“As we move to offer capital inflows into the region through new channels, we are cognisant of the gaps that exist in local capital markets in Africa, especially in the southern African.

“Most of the big deals are structured and closed outside the continent; with majority if not all of them done in the US, Europe or China. This is not by chance though. Structuring such big investment transactions for different companies, big, small or start-ups, operating in different and multiple countries requires an interplay of advanced finance and legal expertise, and an understanding of the relevant macro-economic environments, as well as mature capital markets that facilitate efficient execution of the deals and flow of funds.

“Capital markets in most countries across Africa and in the region are still at their nascent stages of growth; and this explains why most big investment deals are negotiated, structured and closed outside the continent. In addition, the financial services sector in most countries in Africa is not sufficiently capitalised to take on large investment deals locally. “As a result, there has been syndication of deals with global partners. In April 2023, Bard Santner mobilised Zimbabwean capital market players and executives of Victoria Falls Stock Exchange-listed companies to an investors’ conference in London.

Executives from Zimbabwe's corporate giants which included Innscor Africa, Karo Platinum (which is South African-owned), Caledonia Mining Limited, and Seedco Group attended the conference which was held at the London Stock Exchange where Zimbabwe's Minister of Finance Mthuli Ncube gave the keynote address.

A number business executives also spoke at the conference.

“We are encouraged by the support and feedback from our corporate clients, both local and regional. This makes us confident that our venture into New York will help us unlock value for our clients, investors and economies at large, while presenting a fresh portfolio of assets to the world,” said Sikhosana.

Working with partners in the region, Bard Santner also advises its clients and investors on risk management to ensure companies and investors overall business strategies are sound.

It helps enterprises mitigate the impact of uncertainty on business performance by tailoring reports to focus on specific issues for a country or region.

“In collaboration with partners, we also gather market intelligence and develop models and dashboards to synthesise data into business-relevant metrics and design programmes in which our reports are used as the foundation for extensive client marketing and media activity.

“Using our suite of models, we are able to provide forecasts through our own researched assumptions for critical variables such as fuel prices, interest and exchange rates, and government policy. We can also develop forecasts for the metrics that drive companies’ decision-making and performances.”

Sikhosana also said Bard Santner help clients focus on the drivers of risk and ensure awareness of political, country and economic risks which underpin companies’ ability to protect value and mitigate shocks.

“We do in-house political and macro-economic risk analysis in the market, but also work with partners to do those assessments. Whether companies need consulting on a particular project, or longer term strategic analytical and forecasting resources, we can respond to enquiries and requirements face-to-face or online.”

While there are challenges in the region, including in Zimbabwe, the tide is turning in Africa through the establishment of international financial centres in strategic cities across the continent.

Among the leading financial centres in Africa are Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa, Port Louis in Mauritius, Casablanca in Morocco, Nairobi in Kenya, Lagos in Nigeria and Kigali in Rwanda, as well as the nascent Victoria Falls financial services centre in Zimbabwe.

The strategic location of these financial centres covers the southern, northern, eastern and western regions of the continent.

“We pay close attention to activities in these financial centres making us well-placed and ready to handle deals, investments and transactions. The addition of our New York office and soon Johannesburg to the firm’s global and regional networks makes management of portfolios much easier,” said Sikhosana.