Japan’s Mizuho Financial Group will sign an agreement to cooperate with South Africa’s Standard Bank in corporate lending as early as this week, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The non-exclusive agreement will focus on bringing more of Mizuho’s Japanese clients to Africa and Standard Bank’s clients to Japan, said one of the people, both of whom declined to be identified because the information is not public.
A spokesman for Mizuho declined to comment. A Standard Bank spokesman said it would “not be appropriate” to comment.
The tie-up could be a sign that Mizuho – Japan’s second-largest lender by assets – is becoming more serious about doing business in Africa.
Mizuho is the only one of Japan’s three “megabanks” without a presence on the continent. Rivals Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group both have offices in South Africa.
While global banks are increasingly looking to target trade and deals between Asia and resource-rich Africa, Japanese lenders have been slow to capitalise on Africa’s growth, despite their expertise in areas such as project finance.
Johannesburg-based Standard Bank is Africa’s largest bank by assets, with operations in at least 17 sub-Saharan countries.
It is 20 percent owned by Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, meaning that a capital alliance with another Asian bank would be unlikely