Citi eyes three new Africa markets

JOHANNESBURG Mon Mar 7, 2011 1:22pm EST

Naveed Riaz, Citigroup's Africa CEO, speaks during the Reuters Africa Investment Summit in London March 7, 2011. REUTERS/Benjamin Beavan

Naveed Riaz, Citigroup's Africa CEO, speaks during the Reuters Africa Investment Summit in London March 7, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Benjamin Beavan

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Citigroup may expand into three new African countries over the next 18 months to strengthen its corporate and investment banking business on the continent, a senior executive said on Monday.

Naveed Riaz, Citigroup's Africa CEO, told the Reuters Africa Investment Summit here that oil-rich Angola was unlikely to be one of those new markets.

"We are looking at expanding our geographic footprint. We are looking at potentially three markets over the next 12 to 18 months in terms of having a new presence over there," Riaz told the Summit via a videconference from London.

Citigroup has an established banking presence in about 15 countries in Africa and conducts business in additional 23.

Citigroup previously had a presence in the southern African nation of Angola, but left earlier this decade.

"Angola is something that's always of interest, but it's too early to say that we would be re-entering Angola at this point in time," he said.

The bank would continue to focus on corporate and investment banking on the continent, Riaz said, echoing comments from Citi Chief Executive Vikram Pandit on a visit to Africa last year.

Most investment banking activity would focus on South Africa and, to a lesser extent, Nigeria, Riaz said.

Elsewhere, Citigroup will focus on cash management, trade finance, and transaction banking, he said.

Citigroup roughly doubled its investment banking fees in 2010 from sub-Saharan Africa, raking in $19.2 million, compared with $9.8 million a year earlier, according to Thomson Reuters league tables.

That put Citi in third place for the year in the region, behind top-ranked JP Morgan Chase & Co and Morgan Stanley in second place.

Citigroup, which has a history in Africa dating back to the 1950s, faces increased competition on the continent as more of its rivals target rising trade between emerging markets.

(Reporting by David Dolan, Editing by Jane Merriman)

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