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Standard Bank sells stake to Sonangol insurer

South Africa’s Standard Bank has been the most recent public victim of an informal rule that foreign-owned banks must operate onshore in Angola in partnership with a local institution: usually meaning Sonangol or the ruling family.

Standard Bank gained one of Angola’s rarely given banking licences in 2009 and has said it plans to almost quadruple its branch network in Angola to around 70 in the next three to five years.

This summer Standard Bank announced it had entered into a partnership with AAA Activos, Angola’s biggest insurance group, partly owned by Sonangol and with an almost monopoly share in the oil sector. AAA Activos will now own 49% of Standard Bank Angola.

"When we applied for a licence, we said that we agreed it would be important to have a local partner," says Pedro Pinto Coelho, Standard Bank Angola’s chief executive. "Having an Angolan partner that is close to the oil sector will help us grow our business in Angola."

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