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Banking

Orabank purchase propels Vista’s pan-African ambitions

After buying parts of BNP Paribas and Societe Generale, Orabank is African banking group Vista’s boldest acquisition yet. Despite coups and sovereign debt distress, Vista’s founder and chairman Simon Tiemtoré tells Euromoney how he can succeed where other higher profile ventures have failed.

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Vista’s Simon Tiemtoré

When Societe Generale announced various African country exits this summer, even some African banking experts struggled to recognize the buyer of its businesses in central Africa.

Vista Group – which was only launched in 2016 – is the purchaser of the French group’s enterprises. Burkina Faso-born Simon Tiemtoré set up Lilium Capital that year, initially acquiring First International Bank, a distressed group of lenders operating in three small west African economies. The balance sheet equated to a mere $200 million. Tiemtoré, who remains Vista’s chairman as well as the CEO and majority owner of Lilium, then restructured and rebranded First International Bank to become Vista.

A major breakthrough came in 2019, when BNP Paribas moved to pare back its presence on the continent and sold Vista its subsidiaries in Gabon and Guinea, and later Burkina Faso too. Those deals helped build Tiemtoré’s international credibility and laid the ground for an agreement in early July this year to buy banks from SocGen in Congo and Equatorial Guinea.

We started in west and central Africa because we needed to have a strong base which we know, and then expand from that standpoint
Simon Tiemtoré, Vista

Barely two months later, on August 10, Tiemtoré clinched a much bigger deal.

Vista