Russian Promsvyazbank intends to grow by developing international financing, while the domestic market stagnates, and found a new vacant niche in Africa for this, Alexander Meshcheryakov, managing director for international, documentary and transactional business of the bank, said in an interview with Reuters.
"Africa as a whole is now the fastest growing region and may be the only economic region that has not yet fired ... As a growth point, this is probably the most promising on the world map," he said. According to Meshcheryakov, Africa is now quite strongly developed face to foreign investors: tax breaks are granted, investment protection is guaranteed. In general, according to the banker, the conditions for long-term growth at a rate higher than the world average for the next 10 years have been created in this region.
At the initial stage, the bank, ranked 10th in terms of assets in the Russian banking sector, aimed at developing business in 10-15 African countries - economic centers with the largest population and the potential for economic activity, Meshcheryakov said. Among them, he named Zambia, Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania. According to the forecasts of the World Bank, in a number of these countries in 2017-2019, the economy is expected to grow at a rate of 7% per year. The official forecast of the Ministry of Economic Development for the growth of Russia's GDP in 2017 is 2.0%, the Bank of Russia in the interval 1.3-1.8%.
"The interest is already growing among the clients themselves, many customers come to us with such a story and are asked to help with financing projects in this region," Meshcheryakov said. In particular, Promsvyazbank looks at major ideas in engineering and works with Russian customers from the sectors of aircraft construction, transport and railway engineering, both public and private, interested in African projects.
As specified by RBC in Promsvyazbank, the first business contacts have already been established - with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank). "We now have a limit with Afreximbank, we start to look at several deals ... We, as far as I know, were the first bank to set this limit on them for operations with Russian clients. Now the state banks are also negotiating with them, "said Meshcheryakov Reuters.
"The opening of the branch is already the next stage, when there will be several years of experience, and customers will come to this country. Now we are at the first step, "Meshcheryakov said. Promsvyazbank itself confirmed that there are no talks about opening branches in the African region.
Currently, Promsvyazbank has a branch in Cyprus, as well as representative offices in Beijing and Delhi.
Russian banks in Africa
The African market is not yet very popular with Russian banks. The divisions are located in VTB (Banco VTB Africa S.A. in Angola), Renaissance Capital Kenya Limited in Kenya and Renaissance Credit Nigeria in Nigeria. The project activity in Africa is also led by Vnesheconombank. He carries out financing of investment and export projects in the region in support of non-raw and high-tech products.
According to analysts surveyed by RBC macroanalysts, Africa has "growth points", but at the same time, the risks are also high. Yulia Tsyplaeva, Director of the Center for Macroeconomic Research of Sberbank, highlights, in the first place, political risks in the region. At the same time, she emphasizes that many countries of the African continent are approaching the period of the economic boom. "From this point of view, this region has prospects," she said.
Alfa Bank's chief economist, Natalia Orlova, notes that there are more free niches on the African market for the use of capital than Asia or Latin America. The activity and success of business in the region will largely depend on the business interests of the bank's clients, the availability of trading or capital transactions that need maintenance, she adds. "In crisis moments, as a rule, there is no question of expansion into new and rather unexplored markets. In our case, banks are likely to go for business, "agrees Yulia Tsyplyaeva.
"Africa is a high-risk region in terms of the political situation, but at the moment it is a pilot project of Promsvyazbank, which does not imply significant capital investment," adds the director for bank ratings Expert RA Vyacheslav Putilovsky.