South Africa's Standard Bank Said To Prep New Prime Brokerage Unit

Aug 3 2017 | 5:21pm ET

South African financial services giant Standard Bank Group is reportedly planning to launch a prime brokerage operation in September in order to capitalize on new regulations in the nation expected to boost alternative asset managers such as hedge funds. 

The company believes it can land five hedge fund clients by the end of the year, according to a Bloomberg article citing a statement by Standard’s head of global markets. 

South Africa’s securities regulator introduced new rules in 2015 that encouraged hedge funds to utilize more than one prime broker, and also placed hedge funds into the same category as mutual funds - opening up competition for a wider pool of assets. Accordingly, AUM among SA-based hedge funds has almost doubled between 2013 and the end of last year. Standard Bank has approximately 60% of the South African securities lending business, according to an article in Business Live, which will augur well for the new division. 

Standard reportedly hired two executives, Andrew Cairns and former Barclays Africa prime services executive Francois Henrion, to lead the effort, which will focus on the domestic hedge fund market holding predominantly South African positions, the article said. 

Tracing its heritage back 154 years, Johannesburg-based Standard Bank is the largest African banking group by assets, at $143 billion, and also the largest lender. The company employs some 54,000 people and operates in 20 nations on the African continent.

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