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Investment banking: Medicap ventures into Africa’s frontier markets

Watch out Standard Chartered: a potential competitor might have been born. London-based investment bank Medicap, 100% owned by BMCE, a Moroccan bank, launched in November, and intends to focus on one of Standard Chartered’s specialities: Africa.

Medicap is hoping to bring African firms and governments in contact with investors through its existing banking hubs in London, Paris and Madrid, as well as from distribution offices in Dubai, and, by 2009, in Hong Kong and New York.

The new bank will advise local governments and businesses on raising money in the international capital markets, help place IPOs, do structured finance, and trade local-currency bonds on the secondary market. Medicap will also bring private equity and corporate FDI into the continent, particularly in oil and gas, mining and infrastructure.

Rivals such as Standard Chartered and Standard Bank will still have some advantages for the moment though. "We’ve got a modest approach. We can’t do the mega-deals," says David Suratgar, Medicap’s chairman, and ex-deputy chairman of Morgan Grenfell/Deutsche Bank. Its smallest deals will be worth about $50 million. But on deals of more than $200 million to $300 million, the bank will act in partnership with the bigger banks, according to Eric Aouani, the CEO, who was previously the deputy general manager of BMCE’s investment banking arm.

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