BY GRACE AIRHULE
Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB), the Indian island nation’s largest bank, is planning to open a representative office in Nigeria as it seeks to diversify its business beyond oil and gas to include renewables and mining.
Thierry Hebraud, head of corporate and institutional banking, Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB), disclosed this on the sidelines of the Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan, Reuters reports.
Hebraud said the COVID-19 pandemic had stalled plans for the Nigeria branch, but that it was now in the final stages of central bank approval.
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MCB, which has $850 million in exposure in Nigeria, already has representative offices in Nairobi and Johannesburg as part of its push into Africa, in addition to its offices in Dubai and Paris.
“Today, more than 50% of our balance sheet is outside Mauritius, and the major part is in Africa. I believe within the next couple of months, we will be operating the new representative office in Nigeria,” Hebraud told Reuters.
The Nigeria office would eventually cover Ghana, a neighbouring West African oil producer which also exports cocoa and mines gold, Hebraud said.
He said the bank is now focused on structured finance in the upstream and downstream oil and gas industry and the oil trade, and was looking to expand into renewables and mining.
Till now, it has handled deals from its Port Louis headquarters, such as the acquisition by Seplat and Sahara Oil of assets put on sale by international oil firms.
“We believe we’ll continue to grow in the oil and gas sector, but at a slower pace. We’ll definitely grow in the energy and infrastructure,” he said.
Hebraud said banks needed to support Africa’s oil and gas industry to provide the energy for the continent to grow, even though climate change was driving a shift from fossil fuels.
“Imagine all banks withdraw from this sector, you’ll shut down the electricity of half the continent,” he said.
MCB has exposure worth about $300 million in Ghana, and a further $200 million in Senegal and Ivory Coast. Its clients include Turkey’s Karadeniz, which operates floating powerships in several West African countries.