ABIDJAN, April 16 (Reuters) - French bank Societe Generale plans to expand its retail and commercial activities in West Africa to target increasing Chinese investments in the region, a bank executive said on Thursday.
SocGen, which is present in 18 African countries mostly in the French-speaking west of the continent, is playing catch-up with Barclays and Standard Chartered in the sector, said Alexandre Maymat, deputy head of international banking and financial services.
“China has become the biggest investor in Africa. Chinese investments are growing,” Maymat told Reuters, noting Chinese investments in Africa had reached $69 billion in 2013.
Socgen has put in place Chinese client advisers in Cameroon, Benin, Ghana and Paris, he said, and plans to further increase staff of Chinese origin to advise Chinese investors jostling in Africa’s construction, mining and telecoms sectors.
Maymat said the strategy was proving successful after telecoms equipment maker ZTE entrusted SocGen with management of the financial operations of subsidiaries in 15 African countries.
“There are 38 active Chinese enterprises in Cameroon, thanks to our new strategy, 30 of those are our clients,” Maymat added. (Reporting by Ange Aboa; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Daniel Flynn and David Holmes)