Refused entry into Kenya & Ghana, JPMorgan still plans Africa expansion

JPMorgan joins banks including Barclays Plc, BNP Paribas SA and Citigroup Inc. that have added operations in Africa to gain from the continent’s economic growth.

JAMIE DIMON, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., which has offices in South Africa and Nigeria, said the bank wants a presence in more African countries to spur growth, even after regulators in Ghana and Kenya refused the lender entry.

“We’ll hopefully start opening branches again in Africa,” he said in a Bloomberg Television interview with Stephanie Ruhle on Monday. “I’m not doing that because it’s going to affect earnings in the next couple years. I’m doing that because that forms the base for the next generation.”

Sub-Saharan Africa is forecast to grow 3.8% this year and 4.3% next year, making it one of the fastest-expanding regions, an International Monetary Fund report released October 6 shows.

JPMorgan was refused entry by regulators in Ghana and Kenya in the past two years, according to Dimon, who said the New York-based lender would get around these obstacles by banking multinational companies and the biggest institutions in those markets. This is how the bank will build for the future and “win,” he said.

JPMorgan managed the Kenyan government’s debut $2 billion Eurobond sales last year and, along with Citigroup, is financing planes for national carrier Kenya Airways Ltd.

In Ghana, JPMorgan finances government power plants among other large-scale projects, Dimon said.

“We’re not doing retail,” he said. “We’re not doing stuff like that. So I would say it’s rather low risk. We’re going to do a bunch of things and serve the clients who already want us to be there.”

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