Report: Marvellous Mauritius
Media: Lufthansa Inflight Magazine
Publication Date: January 2016
Bridging Africa, Asia and the World
Mauritian bank AfrAsia gears up to service the middle-income emerging economies and frontier markets of Africa and Asia.
The idea that the balance of power is shifting in the global economy is not new. While many European and American corporations now have Africa and Asia on their agenda, another growth story is unfolding, albeit more quietly, as trade and investment ties between Africa and Asia continue to gain ground. AfrAsia, a Mauritian headquartered bank, has made it a top priority to help its clients make the most of this growing relationship. Set up in 2007, the bank is determined to cement its position as a trusted advisor and provider of financial solutions for companies and individuals doing business in African and Asian countries. “We have built up a substantial knowledge base and have many years of experience in servicing these markets,” says AfrAsia’s CEO Sanjiv Bhasin. “This means we truly understand African and Asian trade and investment flows and can connect.”
With GML, one of Mauritius’ largest conglomerates, as one of its founding shareholders, the Bank has carved out a profitable niche for itself; one that has convinced the National Bank of Canada to buy a 17.5% stake in the bank. Today, AfrAsia offers the whole suite of banking services, including private banking and wealth management, corporate and investment banking, as well as global business and treasury. True to the Bank’s slogan ‘Bank Different’, AfrAsia is driven by a desire to offer every client the right solution. “We are not product sellers,” says Bhasin. “We are committed to first fully understanding our clients’ businesses and their risk appetite before we design a product for their unique needs.” Knowledge of the target markets is key in this process, he says, highlighting that Africa is not one economy but home to 50-plus nations with different market realities and requirements. “We need to be careful not to generalise; the differences between countries are huge. However, the one thing which is common is that Mauritius is considered as a safe financial centre.”
The importance of building relationships should also not be underestimated when doing business in Africa, Bhasin says. “We believe in building strong relationships which means that we keep abreast of the evolving needs of our clients, as well as of changing market dynamics.” Capitalising on Mauritius’ position as the premier African finance centre and AfrAsia’s expertise, Bhasin says that many Indian and Asian investors are already using Mauritius as an investment and treasury centre for managing regional investments, while the Bank is also experiencing increased interest from African investors and entrepreneurs who use Mauritius’ financial infrastructure for their African investments.
A Focus on Wealth Management
Bhasin, who has been appointed CEO of AfrAsia Bank in December 2015, is keen to expand the Bank’s customer base, and sees strong potential in wealth management. “The wealth management market is expanding exponentially; people are becoming wealthier in countries such as India, China and Indonesia.” He believes that Mauritius, with its strong regulatory framework and reputation as a stable and sophisticated banking centre, is primed for a surge in private banking solutions catering to the Asian market, while also providing solutions to clients from the African continent, where, according to recent surveys, the number of high-net-worth individuals is growing at a faster rate than anywhere else.