The CEO of Standard Bank, the continent’s largest lender by assets, says growth will remain suppressed until some of the reforms undertaken by government start boosting confidence. “Business confidence is still non-existent at the moment, and the growth in our corporate loans and advances is evidence of this. In addition, local corporates focused on SA are growing more slowly than local corporates investing in Africa. That just shows you the lack of confidence we are facing at the moment,” said CEO Sim Tshabalala. Standard Bank’s own portfolio of businesses demonstrates this. Return on equity for the local division rose marginally to 16.7% in 2018, while the Africa division delivered return on equity of 24%. The bank operates in 20 African countries outside SA, including Angola, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria and Uganda, which accounts for almost a third of the company’s profit. A strong performance by its non-SA operations, as well as a 31% decline in bad debts, helped the group to rep...

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