Standard Bank slashes stake in Turkey's Unlu

Standard Bank says it will reduce its stake in Turkish venture Standard Unlu to 25% from 67%, the latest move by the lender to scale back non-African operations.

The deal, whose value remains undisclosed, will increase the Turkish partner in the venture, Mahmut Unlu, holding to 75% stake, according to a press release.

Africa’s biggest bank is downsizing its overseas operations and turning its focus on the fast-growing but under-served continent.

It sold its 36% stake in Russia’s Troika Dialog last year for $372-million and raked in a further $600-million by reducing its stakes in three Argentine operations to 20%.

“They are moving towards their plan of focusing on Africa. It is consistent with that strategy,” said Faizal Moolla, an analyst at Avior Research in Cape Town.

“I don’t think it [money] will be returned to shareholders, they will either use it to grow their advances or make an acquisition in Africa, in particular in Nigeria.”

Johannesburg-based Standard has operations in at least 17 Sub-Saharan markets including a new licence in South Sudan and has said it no longer has ambitions to buy or build commercial banking operations outside of Africa.

It posted a 21% increase in full-year profit, boosted partly by turning its attention on to the largely undeserved Africa.

Standard, which is 20% owned by Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, intends to spend up to $300-million this year growing four of its key sub-Saharan business; Kenya, Angola, Zambia and Ghana.

Standard Bank’s shares are up 1.6% at R113.03 at 10.21am, compared with a 0.21% decline by Johannesburg blue chip index.—Reuters

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