South Africa Mulls Stake in Lender as it Covets a State Bank
Jul 29, 2021
Mboweni has previously said South Africa needs a new state bank to help support the emergence of Black agriculturists and Black industrialists. While about 77% of South African banks have access to a bank account, only about 14% of them are able to obtain loans from commercial lenders, with the remainder sourcing them from non-bank institutions or family and friends, according to FinMark Trust, a Johannesburg-based non-profit. Access to finance remains a “definite challenge” in South Africa, particularly for start-ups and smaller businesses, where demand is greatest, according to a 2018 report by the Banking Association of South Africa. It cited a study that showed a total of 44% of small businesses seek funding of up to 250,000 rand ($17,058), with a combined 73% seeking funding of up to 1 million rand, while financiers mostly offer funding from 250,000 rand to 5 million rand, “pointing to a mismatch between funding demand and supply.”
The central bank initiated the process of disposing of its stake in African Bank last year, and Mboweni said his deputy David Masondo is in talks on how it could be acquired with a view to setting up the new lender. “This matter has the strongest support of the president, so we have to proceed,” he said. The central bank said it has appointed external advisers for the process of disposing of its stake in African Bank. “The South African Reserve Bank and the transaction advisers are assessing the expressions of interest received, and due to the nature of the process we cannot, at this stage, disclose who has registered an interest,” it said in an emailed response to questions. The government already owns Post Bank, which confines itself to taking deposits, and the Land & Agricultural Development Bank of South Africa, which mainly lends to farmers. ©2021 Bloomberg L.P.