Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Goldman Sachs is hiring new executives from rival firms Barclays and Standard Bank to bolster its SA team, cementing its bullish sentiment despite the country’s fragile economic prospects being hammered by pandemic-induced lockdowns.    

Simon Denny, former head of Africa banking at Barclays, will join Goldman Sachs as MD and head of investment banking in SA in October, according to the US lender’s spokesperson. 

Meanwhile, Zoya Sisulu, who was heading debt capital markets for Standard Bank, has already started in her position as head of Goldman’s financing group, the spokesperson said. 

Goldman Sachs’s move runs contrary to the direction of other investment banks that have been downsizing or exiting the economy that has hardly grown in the past decade. It also comes as SA’s credentials as a friendly and safe emergency market have been dealt a blow by the looting frenzy and torching of commercial properties in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in July.

Still, the company, which in May forecast that SA’s GDP could rebound by as much as 4.5% in 2021 as opposed to the more moderate consensus forecast of 3% at the time, is probably in a stronger position to pitch its services to advise on mergers and acquisitions as foreign companies such as DP World, a Dubai-based marine transportation group, and Heineken show interest to strike deals with SA companies.  

Denny had been head of Africa banking at Barclays since March 2019, and brings with him a strong list of clientele to the US banking firm. His major deals at the London-based bank included advising Massmart, the unit of US retail giant Walmart, on the sale of some of its divisions to Shoprite last month in a $890m deal. Before Barclays, Denny was the MD of Deutsche Bank in SA.

The US banking giant, which has had a presence in SA for more than 20 years, committed to an expansion drive about two years ago. It is now lifting its headcount and ramping up financing in the continent’s most industrialised economy.

Goldman has already moved into bigger offices in Sandton. It has worked on some of the biggest deals during the year, including a stake sale by Steinhoff in clothing retailer Pepkor, Standard Bank’s acquisition of Liberty Holdings, and a large transaction involving Naspers and Prosus, according to the spokesperson. With Tiisetso Motsoeneng

Bloomberg, Reuters 

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