via Standard Chartered Admits It May be Forced to Quit Zimbabwe – WSJ by Matina Stevis 22 May 2014
Standard Chartered may be forced to abandon its operations in Zimbabwe if the government pushes ahead with a bill to limit foreign investors’ holdings in banks to 25%, the bank’s Africa Chief Executive Diana Layfield said.
Standard Chartered fully controls a bank—Standard Chartered Zimbabwe—in the southern African nation.
A bill floated last week but not yet turned into law would force investors to require special approval from the country’s finance minister to own more than 25% in any financial institution.
Asked if Standard Chartered would be able to stay should this bill become law, Ms. Layfield said: “I think it would be very hard for us to do so.”
Barclay’s Bank owns 67.7% in Barclay’s Zimbabwe and would also be affected by the law, as would Standard Bank, a South African institution, which wholly owns a Zimbabwean entity, Stanbic Bank.
But Ms. Layfield, who was speaking to the WSJ on the margins of the African Development Bank meetings here in Kigali, said it was too soon to fret about the bill. “[It’s a] very early stage piece of legislation and there’ve been a number of those over the years,” she said.
“We would absolutely like to continue to play a very strong part in Zimbabwe’s economy. But how that happens is something that we’ll have to discuss with the government,” she added.