First National Bank (FNB) the retail and commercial banking wing of First Rand, one of South Africa’s biggest finance group, is set to start full banking operations in Ghana this month.
“We have met the minimum capital requirements and are in the process of training our staff. We are looking to open the doors to the public in the next few weeks,” Chief Executive of First National Bank Ghana, Richard Hudson told Joy Business’ George Wiafe.
On First National Bank’s plan for Ghana, the Chief Executive noted that their intention is to establish a presence in Accra and to fine tune products and services to suit the needs of the market.
“The initial focus will be in Accra but the longer term intention is to expand beyond Accra,” he explained.
On their view of the Ghanaian market Mr. Hudson said “While it is true that the economy has been through a tough period in recent times we believe that the longer
term prospects for the country are good and our decision to invest is the correct one”.
The South African Bank has already secured its office which is located around Ridge, in Accra.
It has also almost completed recruitment of personnel and its now training them for its operations.
But will First Rand be able to penetrate the market and make some good returns looking at the number of banks operating in the country?
Some banking analysts say there is still space for First Rand.
According to the analysts, returns being made by new entrants like Royal Bank show the Ghanaian market is not saturated.
Through its subsidiaries, First Rand is currently financing huge infrastructure projects in Ghana including commercial office complex by real estate companies and power projects by GRICO, hence even if they should concentrate on these areas, they could be making some good returns.
Chief Executive of First Rand, Sizwe Nzasana, said the bank will operate as a commercial bank.
First Rand has also set aside some billions of dollars for its entry into Ghana and other West African countries.
Mr. Hudson until his appointment as Chief Executive of FNB Ghana, was the Chief Risk Officer at FNB Africa.
He joined FNB in 1989 as a Specialist Trainee on the Executive Training programme.
“The bulk of my career has been spent in the following African countries outside of South Africa: Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania. I am regarded as a banking start up specialist having started banks in Lesotho, Zambia and Tanzania”, according to Mr Hudson.
Until recently he was the Chief Risk Officer for FNB Africa but in May 1, 2014 he moved off this role to focus on another opportunity within the FirstRand Group
The bank in 2013 failed in its attempt to acquire Merchant Bank now UMB.