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The Economist | Emerging markets: Lands of eternal promise

The Economist

Emerging markets
Lands of eternal promise
In emerging markets, local and regional banks are increasingly beating global ones

TO JOURNEY FROM the bustle of street-traders, minibus taxis, heat and dust of an African city centre to one of the pulsing arteries of global finance, all you need to do is walk a few steps, from the pavement to the towering coolness of the Johannesburg head office of Standard Bank, Africa’s biggest bank. Before the financial crisis Standard Bank had global ambitions. Touting its skill in emerging markets and mining, it built outposts in Russia, Brazil, Turkey and London, among other places. For a time, the strategy seemed to be paying off as it won mandates to help local companies raise funds on international capital markets. “With the crisis, the competitive landscape changed dramatically,” says Sim Tshabalala, co-chief executive of the bank. The cost of capital and funding for mid-sized investment banks shot up and domestic rivals in many of its markets began to flex their muscles. So Standard has shifted its focus to deploying capital across Africa, where it has a strong local presence and can see off competition from both global investment banks and newly emerging home-grown ones.

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