The country’s oldest banking institution, Standard Chartered Bank Zimbabwe has said it is here to stay and will not exit the market anytime soon.
BY NDAMU SANDU
StanChart CEO Ralph Watungwa told guests at the launch of the refurbished Africa Unity Square branch last Thursday that his bank was familiar with the terrain and would want to be part of the solution to Zimbabwe’s economic problems.
“For those of you that doubt the conviction of the bank; we have invested so much in this country in excess of $10 million [in branch refurbishments],” he said.
“We cannot invest this amount of money and walk away. That’s not possible.
“So any reporter who is here, please don’t ask me whether we are going to run away. We are not going to run away. We are here for good, for the long run.
“Here for good means three things: here for good as in pleasure, as in longevity and as a promise.” Standard Chartered’s pay off line is here for good.
The bank has been in Zimbabwe since 1892, which Watungwa said showed StandardChart has been part of the terrain for a long time.
“I can tell you, we are not going to run away. We also want to be part of the solution for this country,” he said.
“I always tell Dr Mlambo [central bank deputy governor Kupukile] in meetings that we will be here and solve the problems together.”
Watungwa’s remarks came in the wake of moves by multinational banking group Barclays Plc to sell its stake in the local unit to First Merchant Bank, a Malawian banking group.
Barclays Plc announced last year that it was putting the Zimbabwean unit in its non-core division with an intention to sell in future. Barclays Plc owned 68% shareholding in Barclays Zimbabwe and will retain 10%.
FMB will get 43%, workers (15%) while 32% will remain on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.
StandardChart has embarked on a branch refurbishment exercise to ensure they meet the world class standards and drive the bank’s digital agenda.
Ten branches have so far received a facelift.
Watungwa said the bank was reaping the benefits of being probably “the only bankers in town”.
“Those of you that have not read the paper today [Thursday], there is one bank that was voted the best bank in top companies award by the Financial Gazette and you are seeing the CEO, the directors and staff,” he said.
Other than StandardChart, foreign banks that have a Zimbabwean presence include MBCA, Ecobank, Stanbic and BancABC.