Russia's Gazprombank says setting up first formal African presence

JOHANNESBURG, April 25 Fri Apr 25, 2014 4:08am EDT

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JOHANNESBURG, April 25 (Reuters) - Gazprombank, Russia's third largest lender by assets, is setting up a representative office in South Africa, its first on the continent, seeking a piece of the resource and infrastructure pie on the richly endowed continent.

The bank has helped arrange project and structured finance for resource-based deals in Africa but has not had a formal presence until now, Oleg Vaksman, Gazprombank's deputy chairman, told Reuters.

"Briefcase banking is possible especially in a deal by deal basis, but if you have a strategic intent and you believe in the growth story of the continent, you need to have some presence on the ground to build up a business of substance," Vaksman said.

The Russian company expects the South African Reserve Bank to grant it a representative banking licence before the end of the year. (Reporting by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura; Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa)