Top of the heap: A look at the sector’s major players

While the Ivoirian banking system is characterised by a diversity of service providers, it is dominated by a few players. The top three banks control 41% of all resources, the top eight control 83.3%, while 13 of the 23 banks marshal resources of less than CFA100bn (€150m). With the exception of state-owned Banque Nationale d’Investissements (BNI) and part state-owned Banque Internationale pour l’Afrique Occidentale-Côte d’Ivoire (BIAO-CI), all of the top eight banks are foreign-owned.

Société Générale de Banques en Côte d'Ivoire ( SGBCI) is the highest-ranked bank in terms of resources, according to the Central Bank of West African States. SGBCI is followed in rank by Ecobank, Banque Internationale pour l’Afrique Occidentale-Côte d'Ivoire ( BIAOCI), Banque Atlantique, Banque Internationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie de la Côte d’Ivoire (BICICI), BNI, Société Ivoirienne de Banque (SIB) and Bank of AfricaCôte d'Ivoire (BOA-CI). More than half (52.7%) of lending can be accounted for by four of the country’s largest and longest standing banks: SGBCI, Ecobank, BIAO-CI and BICICI. However, by year-end 2011, none of the banks established in the last 10 years accounted for more than 1% of total lending.

SGBCI: A subsidiary of French bank Société Générale, SGBCI first began operations in the country in 1941, expanding its footprint with the acquisition of three branches from the Banque Commercials Africaine in 1962. The bank accounted for 16.5% of all resources in the banking system at year-end 2012. From an initial three branches in the 1960s, the bank has steadily built up its network over the years to stand at 65 branches today. Though SGBCI has traditionally focused on serving larger corporates, it has continued to invest heavily in expanding its branch network as it builds its retail presence and engages in a high-profile marketing campaign to this end in 2013.

The bank operates a “Mobile Money” partnership with telecoms provider MTN. The bank also sees small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) lending as increasingly important, although it continues to offer the most attractive borrowing rates to larger firms. SGBCI has been quoted on the Regional Stock Exchange (Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières, BRVM) since the foundation of the latter in 1998, with a market capitalisation of CFA184bn (€276m) at year-end 2012. The bank recorded profits of CFA16bn (€24m) in 2011, a figure expected to have increased significantly in 2012, once accounts have been compiled and audited. The bank has a history of strong profitability, paying out relatively high dividends to shareholders. In early 2013, the bank counted CFA350bn (€525m) in deposits.

ECOBANK: The Togolese-headquartered pan-African Ecobank first opened its doors in Côte d’Ivoire in 1989 when it acquired the local subsidiary of Chase Manhattan, making it one of the oldest in the Ecobank stable. It has steadily built its market share to become the second-largest bank in the country by 2013, controlling 14.2% of resources in the system. The bank has a network of 40 branches and employs 540 staff. Between 2003 and 2008 alone, the bank increased its assets by CFA223bn (€334.5m). In 2012 Ecobank Côte d'Ivoire counted 165,423 clients and profits of CFA13bn (€19.5m), up from CFA987m (€1.5m) in 2011.

As with other banks, revenues and portfolio quality deteriorated after the political crisis in 2010-11, but Ecobank still limited its non-performing loans to 2%. It had CFA402bn (€603m) in deposits, up from CFA349bn (€523.5m) in 2011, and CFA373bn (€559.5m) in total lending against CFA325bn (€487.5m) a year earlier. Over the coming years, the bank aims to further build up its retail presence, including the development of new channels of service provision.

BIAO-CI: BIAO-CI opened its first branch in Grand-Bassam near Abidjan in 1906, moving to Abidjan in 1934. The bank was partially nationalised in 1980 with the state taking a 35% shareholding. Much of this stake was returned to private ownership in 2000 as Belgolaise, a sub-Saharan subsidiary of Belgian bank Fortis, acquired 80% of the bank’s capital. In line with Fortis’s decision to withdraw from the African market, a consortium consisting of the Nouvelle Société d’Assurance en Côte d’Ivoire and the Institution de Prévoyance Sociale ( IPSCNPS) acquired the Belgolaise stake, with the state retaining a 20% shareholding. BIAO accounts for 10.3% of all resources in the banking system. The bank has established its focus to be primarily on retail activity, teaming up with Orange, Compagnie Ivoirienne d' Electricité and the water distribution company, Société de Distribution d’Eau de la Côte d’Ivoire, since 2008 to provide mobile banking and other services, for instance. It also participates in the Inter-Bank Monetary Group of the West African Economic and Monetary Union system, and provides multi-use prepaid Visa cards in amounts up to CFA5000 (€7.50). BIAO-CI has a network of 22 branches in Abidjan as well as 17 in the provinces.

BANQUE ATLANTIQUE-CI (BACI): Set up in Côte d’Ivoire in 1978, BACI is a pan-African bank headquartered in Togo, and its first international expansion was into Côte d’Ivoire. The bank acquired the operations of Barclays’ Ivoirian subsidiary in 1997, maintaining it as an entity with a separate identity and renaming it Compagnie Bancaire de l’Atlantique Côte d’Ivoire. The two banks merged and underwent a rebranding process in 2009, after the group had expanded into Benin, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Togo, Senegal and Cameroon. BACI has been a joint-stock company since 2001, first under the name of SGI, and now under the name of Atlantic Financial Group. BACI initially focused on large corporate clients, but since 2006 has been expanding its offering to SMEs and individuals. Across eight countries, the wider group boasts equity of CFA5.6trn (€8.4bn), and over a quarter of a million clients. The bank has over 70 branches in Côte d’Ivoire, and accounts for 9.7% of all resources across the banking system.

BICICI: BICICI is a subsidiary of French bank BNP Paribas, active in Côte d’Ivoire since 1962, making it one of the oldest financial institutions in the country. The bank has a network of 37 branches in 15 cities and employs 500 people. It accounts for 8.9% of resources in the banking system, which sees it ranked fifth in size. Similar to SGBCI, it has traditionally focused on serving larger corporates – particularly in the coffee and cocoa sectors – but has been expanding both its branch network and the services it offers in recent years, particularly by increasing its presence in the SME and retail segments. BICICI has been quoted on the BRVM since its inception in 1998 and had a market capitalisation of CFA61bn (€91.5m) at year-end 2012. It also has a subsidiary, BICI Bourse, which acts as a broker. Like SGBCI, BICICI has a reputation for generating strong profits and distributing high dividends to its shareholders. Profitability has suffered recently, however, reaching only CFA800m (€1.2m) in 2010, before improving to CFA2.25trn (€3.4m) in 2011, despite the political crisis. As the economic and political situation normalises, profitability is expected to rebound.

BNI: As the country’s largest state-owned financial institution, BNI accounts for 7.9% of all resources in the banking system. Founded over 50 years ago, and formerly known as Caisse Autonome d’Amortissement, the bank was established to support the country’s overall economic development. As of 2004 the bank’s CFA20.5bn (€30.75m) capital has been 100% owned by the state. However, as with other state-owned banks, BNI has been mentioned as a candidate for a possible privatisation. It is not yet clear if or when this will happen and, if it does, whether it will be disposed of via an initial public offering or trade sale, but the situation is expected to become clearer late in 2013 or early 2014, when the government sets out its overarching plan for restructuring the banking sector. The bank serves businesses and individuals but has placed a heavy focus on public and private sector infrastructure projects, agriculture, SMEs and housing refinancing. BNI established an investment banking arm, BNI Finances, in 2004. This subsidiary has been very active in advising the government on raising funds on regional capital markets.

SIB: Established in 1962, SIB was owned by French bank Crédit Lyonnais until its acquisition by Attijariwafa Bank in 2009. The new Moroccan parent bank is the largest in the Maghreb region, and the largest in terms of financial resources on the continent after the five big South African institutions. SIB is a universal bank offering services to individuals, SMEs and larger corporates. It has traditionally had a particular focus on the coffee and cocoa sectors, providing credit to producers throughout the growing season. In more recent years, SIB has developed a full range of services, including e-banking. The bank’s network of 40 branches is expanding rapidly, both in Abidjan and throughout the country. SIB accounted for 7.8% of all resources in the banking system at year-end 2012.

BOA-CI: BOA was established in 1982 in Mali and now boasts a presence in 30 countries across the continent. Since 2010 the group has been majority-owned by Banque Marocaine du Commerce Extérieure, which is Morocco’s second-largest bank. BOA-CI accounted for 6% of total resources in the Ivoirian banking system at the end of 2012, making it the eighth-largest player in terms of financial resources. At the end of 2011, the bank had 217 employees and a total of 21 branches.

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The Report: Côte d'Ivoire 2013

Banking chapter from The Report: Côte d'Ivoire 2013

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