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Goldman Sachs to sell fixed income products in SA, seeks licence

Sees vast long-term economic potential in the country.
Goldman says its plans are still subject to certain regulatory approvals. Picture: Bloomberg

Goldman Sachs is seeking a South African banking licence as part of plans to offer fixed income products in the country, sources and the Wall Street investment bank said, beefing up its African operations as global rivals scale back.

The bank, which is in the midst of a sweeping overhaul and drive to win more clients to counter falling revenue, said on Wednesday the expansion would see it offer products including foreign exchange and government bonds.

“The long-term economic potential of South Africa is unquestionable,” Colin Coleman, Goldman CEO of sub-Saharan Africa, said in a statement.

Other investment banks, including Credit Suisse and Barclays, have slimmed down or exited their African operations altogether.

Credit Suisse closed its South African business last year during the country’s first recession since 2009. Years of alleged corruption and mismanagement have knocked confidence in the continent’s most industrialised economy, which is still struggling for growth.

Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters Goldman was seeking a South African banking licence as part of the move. The bank said its plans were still subject to certain regulatory approvals.

‘Tremendous opportunity’

While some international investment banks have shrunk their presence in Africa, local South African lenders are ramping up their corporate and investment banking offerings elsewhere on the continent.

So has France’s Societe Generale. Richard Gnodde, CEO of the bank’s international operations, said Africa was a substantial and growing part of its business, where it saw “tremendous opportunity” to better serve clients.

Goldman is grappling with a slump in revenue and has been trying to expand its client base by selling more of its core banking products.

It said its expansion plans include an equity trading cooperation agreement with Investec, which would see both banks extend their equity trading capabilities in South Africa and deepen links with African and international institutional clients looking to invest in the region.

The agreement would be launched in the coming weeks and will look to expand into additional African markets, it said.

Goldman also reportedly recently applied for a banking licence in Japan to offer corporate cash management services.

It has also moved into consumer banking, opening an online-only retail bank called Marcus, and invested in financial technology firms such as UK-based online wealth manager Nutmeg and South Africa’s Jumo, which helps individuals and small businesses access credit and savings products via mobile devices.

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