The Germans are coming: Deutsche Bank identifies hub for Africa operations

Germany's biggest bank to operate out of Dubai, as main rival bulks up presence in the region, attracted by continent's high returns on income.

DEUTSCHE Bank AG plans to make the Dubai International Financial Centre the hub for its African operations, according to its local chief executive officer.

Ashok Aram, who heads Deutsche Bank in the Middle East, made the announcement Tuesday at the Bloomberg Future Cities Forum in Dubai. The board has approved the move, he said. 

Aram is also taking over responsibility for the Africa business, according to a Dubai-based spokesman for the bank.

International banks are expanding in Africa to take advantage of growth rates higher than in many developed markets and demand for spending on infrastructure and projects. Deutsche Bank’s presence on the continent includes South Africa, where it last year hired former Standard Bank Group Ltd. chief operating officer Peter Wharton-Hood as CEO.

Dubai’s connections with Africa have increased as local airline Emirates boosts the number of cities it flies to in recent years.

Last month Commerzbank AG announced it was opening a representative office in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire’s main financial city.

The Abidjan office brings to seven the number of representative offices the Frankfurt-headquartered bank, Germany’s second-largest after Deutsche, has in Africa.

Cote d’Ivoire’s economy has picked up briskly after a 2011 electoral conflict, with an average growth of 9% in recent years. Regional bank African Development Bank has been relocating its operations back to Abidjan from Tunis.

Other Commerzbank offices are in Johannesburg, Cairo, Addis Ababa, Lagos, Luanda and Tripoli. Representative offices generally conduct marketing and liaison services, and are often tapped by foreign investors in emerging markets due to the ease of regulations governing them. 

The bank has business relations with 50 of 54 countries on the continent, it said in a statement on its website. These include customer contacts with 550 financial institutions, while it has 100 employees in the region, it added.

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