March 7, 2011 / 3:47 PM / 9 years ago

JPMorgan sets sights on Nigeria

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - JP Morgan Chase (JPM.N) wants to open a full branch in Nigeria by next year and representative offices in Ghana and Kenya as it tracks its multinational clients into frontier Africa, its regional head said.

“We have a very good business in Nigeria but it needs to be deepened in terms of customer reach and broadened in terms of our product offering,” John Coulter, the U.S. bank’s Johannesburg-based CEO for Sub-Saharan Africa, told Reuters African Investment Summit on Monday.

“There’s a lot of focus on Africa because our senior management sees a significant growth opportunity over the next 10 years and we’re seeing our clients increasingly move here — be that an Indian multinational or a German multinational.”

Despite the attention paid to high-growth “frontier” markets such as Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and its biggest oil producer, Coulter said relatively developed South Africa would remain at the heart of its regional operations.

“We would see South Africa as being absolutely core,” he said.

“We see a lot of the growth in Africa being via or with South African multinationals. This is the right place to have an Africa hub, but don’t think you can bank Africa by sitting in South Africa and doing it from your desk-top.”

Ghana started pumping oil in December, attracting considerable investor interest, while Kenya is east Africa’s biggest and most sophisticated economy.

JP Morgan has topped the fee-earning league tables among investment banks in sub-Saharan Africa for the last two years. In 2010, its $21.4 million narrowly eclipsed U.S. rival Morgan Stanley (MS.N), according to Thomson Reuters data.

Mergers and acquisitions formed the backbone of its revenues last year, but Coulter said JP Morgan’s international clients were also demanding more basic transactional banking services such as foreign exchange and trade finance.

“If we can service our clients in Europe and in Singapore and in Vietnam and in Australia, we should also be able to service them in Africa,” he said.

Rival Citigroup (C.N), which has a history in Africa dating back to the 1950s, has a full presence in about 15 countries and is looking at opening offices in three more markets to target rising trade between Africa and other emerging markets.

Reporting by Ed Cropley; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter

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