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StanChart to hire 1,000 more staff in Africa

NAIROBI, KENYA: Standard Chartered plans to hire at least 1,000 more staff in Africa in the next couple of years, an increase of more than 10 per cent, even as its expansion elsewhere has slowed.

Diana Layfield, Standard Chartered's chief executive for Africa, declined to specify where the extra staff would go, but picked out Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana as three of the most attractive markets.

"Nigeria has to be close to the top of everybody's list (for expansion)... it has scale, growth and real dynamism," Layfield said on Tuesday. Nigeria overtook South Africa as the continent's biggest economy this year after a rebasing of its gross domestic product (GDP).

"Our opportunity in Africa is constrained by the ability to invest at pace, and that's not just a financial constraint but also a management capacity. So the real challenge is prioritisation," Layfield said at a briefing on Africa by the bank.

After a decade of expansion that took it to 89,000 staff globally, Standard Chartered has put the brakes on hiring in the last two years after suffering an embarrassing fine for breaching US sanctions, big losses in South Korea and a slowdown in its investment bank.

It has about 8,100 staff in Africa and has a significant presence in 15 countries there. Standard Chartered, Barclays and Citigroup are the biggest international banks in Africa, but they are facing increasing competition from Asian banks, including Chinese ones.

London-based Standard Chartered makes almost all its profits in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. It made a profit of $317 million in Africa in the first six months of this year on income of $878 million, each about 10 percent of the group. Loans to Africa only account for 3 percent of its global total, however.

The bank is helping fund the Azura-Edo and Okija power projects in Nigeria, the continent's biggest economy. The lender's African private-equity unit has invested funds in Zambia Energy Corp., whose CEC Africa unit has bought the 600-megawatt Shiroro hydropower plant in Nigeria's Niger state.

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