Global finance magazine The Banker has named South Africa’s Standard Bank as the Most Innovative Investment Bank from Africa, citing the bank’s “sector expertise, skill and relationships across the continent” as central to its winning the accolade.
The win is a decided plus for the country’s financial services sector, which in 2012 counted “over R6 trillion in assets, of which, the banking sector assets represent just over 50 percent”. According to the Banking Association of South Africa, the sector “contributes about 10.5% to gross domestic product (GDP), taxes amount to over 15% of GDP and employment represents about 4%”.
Since the Banks Act was introduced in 1990, the sector has boomed, with new banking licences being issued. By the end of 2001, the number of registered banks in the country had grown to 43.
The early 90s were a volatile time for the industry, but consolidation, technology and legislation has meant the fittest have survived to contest the space, with the banking system comparing well with those of industrialised nations. This makes the country a “strategic gateway” and has led to foreign banks establishing offices in South Africa, making the local landscape more competitive.
According to the World Economic Forum, “SA banks are rated 2nd out of 144 countries for soundness, while the country was rated 3rd for financial sector development.” The sector is also leaps ahead in technology, with major banks releasing mobile and desktop banking applications, along with text-based mobile apps and payment systems to reach lower-income consumer bases.
Most Innovative Investment Bank from Africa
David Munro, chief executive, corporate and investment banking (CIB), Standard Bank, said of the award, “We truly appreciate receiving this prestigious award. It is an external, objective assessment of what we are trying to achieve at CIB – ensuring that large global multi-national corporations, and South African companies, are able to do business in Africa; and providing access for African companies to the international capital markets.”
The Banker’s statement on the win says that “The group of judges was particularly impressed with Standard Bank’s role in Seplat IPO, Osun State’s sukuk in Nigeria, Aspen Pharmacare’s $2.7bn-worth of loans and Johannesburg’s R1.46bn green bond.” Standard Bank further says that its Investment Banking franchise played a role in key deals in the continent’s mining and metals, oil and gas, and power and infrastructure sectors.
Transactions the bank has been involved in include the largest debut bond in sub- Saharan Africa to date: the Republic of Kenya’s $2-billion debut sovereign bond. Judges for the award included senior editorial staff from The Banker and executives from a range of Africa-focused advisory firms and investment companies.
According to The Banker, Standard Bank’s top six markets are said to be South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Angola, Mozambique and Ghana.

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