China to invest in Africa’s biggest bank

China’s largest bank, the state-run Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, announced plans to acquire a 20% stake in Africa’s biggest bank, Standard Bank, for US$5.5 billion. If approved by South African regulators and ICBC shareholders, the deal would lead to the creation of a US$1 billion private equity fund that will be established by the two companies to focus on emerging markets. The partnership would leverage Standard Bank’s experience in and access to markets throughout Africa. Standard Bank has a presence in 17 African nations and investments in many African firms. Chinese officials have already signalled an interest in investment opportunities in South Africa, Nigeria, Cameroon, Zambia, Congo-Brazzaville, and Angola.  This deal is another sign of both China’s interest in Africa and China’s strategy of making significant strategic equity investments around the world, highlighted by the recent stake in Blackstone.

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