Banco Único, Mozambique's newest privately-owned full service bank, opened its doors to the public this week, a further sign of foreign investor confidence in the country and in southern Africa's growth potential.
Shareholders have already committed US$40 million to start up the bank, which will initially focus on the Mozambican market.
In the medium term, Banco Único also has its sights on the Southern African Development Community, with South Africa an obvious partner of choice.
Banco Único has already begun establishing correspondent relationships with South African financial institutions and is currently negotiating lines of credit.
The bank also sees opportunities to provide services to South African businesses wishing to invest in Mozambique.
"Mozambique, by virtue of its geographic location, is used by neighbouring states as one of the main departure points for trade with overseas markets.
The revitalization of the Nacala, Beira and Maputo corridors will play an increasingly important role in regional economic development, which in turn will strengthen economic ties between Mozambique and its neighbours," says Banco Único's CEO and Chairman Joao Figueiredo, a well-known Mozambican businessman who until recently headed up Mozambique's largest bank, Millenium bim.
"In recent years, we have witnessed a steady growth in foreign direct investment, with South African companies featuring prominently among the investor base.
Banco Único sees an opportunity to support international clients by providing an integrated solution based on partnerships with banks headquartered in the country of origin of these investors," he adds.
With 90% of banking assets concentrated among four commercial banks, the launch of Portuguese-owned Banco Único promises to increase competition in Mozambique's growing banking sector, which has remained highly profitable despite the international crisis.
Banco Único's key sponsor and majority shareholder is Grupo Américo Amorim (Amorim Group), a diversified Portuguese conglomerate with a wide range of investments, including significant stakes in leading Portuguese and Spanish banks.
The conglomerate is owned by Américo Amorim, Portugal's wealthiest individual and a renowned entrepreneur and investor, who is also the founder and key shareholder of Banco BIC Angola.
"Our vision is to create a universal bank that operates across the economic spectrum, a bank with national and regional relevance.
Mozambique provides exciting opportunities for the banking sector and we look forward to providing a competitive alternative in this market," says Américo Amorim.
Visabeira, a Portuguese group with interests in telecommunications, infrastructure and tourism and an existing presence in Mozambique, has also acquired a stake in the bank.
Collectively, Visabeira and Amorim Group will own 86.5% of Banco Único in the start-up phase, while the remaining stake is held by Mozambican shareholders.
In time,Visabeira and Amorim's stakes in Banco Único will be reduced to 51%, with Mozambican shareholders eventually owning between 20% and 30% of the bank. Banco Único's total share capital amounts to US$40 million, of which US$20 million is fully subscribed and paid up.
Banco Único, whose value proposition is predicated on its uniqueness (both in terms of its layout and its distinctive and personalised approach to client service) will provide a comprehensive range of financial products and services to corporates, small and medium-sized enterprises and retail customers, with plans to extend its branch network across Mozambique's ten provinces.
In the short term, Banco Único's focus will be skewed towards business and corporate banking, with an anticipated 60:40 business/retail split.
With specific reference to retail banking, the intention is to eventually tap into the under-served mass market via partnerships and products that specifically target that segment.
Banco Único was launched with four branches, three in Maputo and one in Matola and around 140 employees, with plans to increase the total staff complement to 160 by the end of the year.
Banco Único obtained its banking licence in July 2010.
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