Absa opens China outpost to tap growing trade with Africa

Absa opened a non-banking subsidiary in China, ratcheting up the race among Africa’s largest lenders to capture market share in the world’s second-biggest economy. 

The new office in Beijing will allow Absa to provide general advisory services to clients based in China, according to a statement.

The lender will also be able to distribute some research about the macroeconomic environment and securities reports to some institutional clients in China.

“Our decision to establish a presence in China was driven by our ambition to better connect trade, investment flows, and clients into Africa,” CEO Arrie Rautenbach said in an emailed statement.

China has historically been the largest investor on the continent, and trade between the two countries has largely been fueled by Chinese investment in Africa’s vast natural resources and infrastructure projects, creating huge commercial opportunities for both regions.

With its latest move, Absa joins rivals FirstRand and Nedbank in deepening their foray into China. Standard Bank, Africa’s biggest bank by assets, also has a subsidiary in the market.

Absa’s new office in China will operate under a foreign-owned enterprise license, according to the statement.