Standard Chartered pulls back from Africa and Middle East in cost cutting push
British lender Standard Chartered announced today it would slash its presence in Africa and the Middle East as it looks to cut costs and simplify its business.
The FTSE 100 emerging markets lender said it would fully exit Angola, Cameroon, Gambia, Jordan, Lebanon, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe, as well as close its retail banking operations in Tanzania and Ivory Coast, to focus solely on corporate banking.
Bosses confirmed the firm would continue to serve clients in the markets from its international network but was looking to simplify its global structure.
“We are sharpening our focus on the most significant opportunities for growth while also simplifying our business,” said Bill Winters, the bank’s chief executive.
“We remain excited by a number of opportunities we see in the AME region, as illustrated by our new markets, but remain disciplined in our assessment of where we can deliver significantly improved shareholder returns.”
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The move marks an about turn for the bank after it became one of the biggest lenders to invest in the region when others banks were pulling back.
The markets being shed generated around one per cent of the firm’s annual income and profits, bosses said.
The firm said it is now planning to direct fund towards higher growth markets, having recently opened a branch in Saudi Arabia and earned a banking licence in Egypt.