Awards for Excellence 1999: Africa
Best banks: Standard Chartered Bank, Citigroup
Sub-Saharan Africa has few regional banks. Some French- and British-owned banks have operations in their former colonial areas, and South African banks have a limited presence in South Africa's main export markets.
Citigroup is the only truly pan-African player. It typically has a branch in each capital city, and sometimes in other major cities. Its clients are the top local companies, plus multinationals. Its African services are fully globally integrated, and offer a technological edge over rivals. In several countries, Citi is pioneering the development of commercial paper markets. Citi has also arranged the regional distribution of debut government bond deals in West Africa's version of the eurozone, Communauté Financière Africaine (CFA).
Standard Chartered is a direct rival of Citigroup in providing transaction services and financing for corporates, but its best-known business is retail banking. Though sometimes looked down upon as a stodgy taker of high-street deposits, there's nothing stodgy about Standard Chartered's earnings. The bank made a profit of £218 million ($333.5 million) last year from assets of £1.6 billion. That compares favourably with Standard Chartered's biggest market, East Asia: £1.4