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Shareholder control enables ICBC to follow its Chinese clients across the globe

Shareholder control enables ICBC to follow its Chinese clients across the globe

When Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) bought a majority stake in Standard Bank plc in London in February 2015 for US$690 million, it then stated it has ambitions to obtain banking operations around the world and to follow its Chinese clientele wherever they are based. Controlling Standard Bank of South Africa through the London parent was seen as the opening of the door to the African continent.

That intended relationship was visibly cemented between Standard Bank Namibia and the local Chinese business community when the bank’s Chief Executive, Vetumbuavi Mungunda recently hosted prominent Chinese businessmen at a formal dinner.

This week Standard Bank Namibia said its guests were keen to hear about the latest offerings, and to be able to deal with the local bank as an ICBC proxy in Namibia.

“The marriage of ICBC and Standard Bank creates a platform to serve the growing demands of Chinese clients for global commodities, fixed income, currency and equities while continuing as a distribution platform for African risk” according to Standard Bank Namibia.

This union also allows for the Chinese community to transact in Renminbi, which has vast benefits such as realising significant savings when US dollar conversion costs and liquidity constraints are removed. The bank claims it also promotes price transparency and reduces the cost of international trade.

Despite the Chinese international currency, the Renminbi constituting only 5% of the so-called Special Drawing Rights of the International Monetary Fund, Standard Bank Namibia deemed it fit to open Renminbi cash exchanges in Windhoek, Walvis Bay and Swakopmund early in 2016.

At the dinner, Standard Bank’s Mary Liu, who is based in South Africa, gave a presentation on the new Africa China Banking Centre (ACBC) in Johannesburg whose function it is to link African and Chinese clients with China’s highly networked digital banking and customer knowledge systems.

“The ACBC is the first entity of its kind. It provides a virtual hub that connects Africa and China, online banking services, integrates Personal and Business Banking needs and facilitates win-win partnerships,” Liu explained.

Namibian Chinese trade has grown steadily with Namibian exports increasing from N$939 million in 2011 to N$1.9 billion in 2014. This figure is set to rise exponentially as the biggest Chinese investment in Namibia to date, the Husab Uranium mine ramps up production to full capacity during this year. All the uranium oxide produced at Husab are destined for export to China since the mine belongs to the Chinese Government.

Pictured are Standard Bank’s Chief Executive Vetumbuavi Mungunda (standing back left) and the Regional Chief Executive for Southern and Central Africa, Pindie Nyandoro (front left) with Chinese business leaders at a dinner hosted by the bank for the local Chinese business community. Mary Liu of Standard Bank’s Africa China Banking Centre in Johannesburg, stands centre front.



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The Staff Reporter

The staff reporter is the most senior in-house Economist reporter. This designation is frequently used by the editor for articles submitted by third parties, especially businesses, but which had to be rewritten completely. - Ed.

Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia


20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.