CBZ Group CEO, Blessing Mudavanhu

HARARE – CBZ Bank has been ranked among Africa’s best financial institutions after impressing a panel of judges at Global Finance with its strong balance sheet, which rides on a huge market presence in Zimbabwe.

A flagship unity of the $2,4 billion Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed financial services giant, CBZ Holdings Limited, the bank joins Africa’s most successful financial institutions, including the JSE listed Standard Bank, which was voted Africa’s best in the World’s Best Bank awards recently.

Global Finance said it was not influenced by the size of a financial institution, but the quality of its services, especially through demonstrating outstanding abilities to provide the quality that corporations look for when choosing a bank.

The best banks took steps to exploit technologies and transformed their operations in 2019, said the judging panel’s report.

In other words, Africa’s best banks expertly wield latest technologies to satisfy corporate clients and attract millions of new clients from cities to villages.

“They have expanded their digital and mobile channels and closed some of their brick-and-mortar branches,” Global Finance said of the winning banks.

“In Zimbabwe, CBZ Bank, the country’s largest, processes about one-third of Zimbabwe’s banking transactions. Founded in Harare in 1980, the bank now has 66 branches. CBZ Bank is Global Finance’s choice for best bank in Zimbabwe because of its strong market presence and sizable balance sheet,” they noted.

“African banks are among the most innovative and profitable in the world. In many cases, African financial institutions have leapfrogged over the delivery of services through brick-and-mortar branches, instead using mobile banking to expand rapidly,” the report added.

The rankings were announced a month after CBZ Holdings said post-tax profit for the year ended December 31, 2018 more than doubled to $72,1 million, from $27,8 million during the comparable period in 2017.

Profitability tracked performance in total revenue, which rose to $199,5 million during the review period, from $175 million the previous year, a significant of it coming from CBZ Bank.

The CBZ board declared a $6,4 million final dividend for the review period, bringing to $9 million total dividends paid to shareholders in 2018.

The group rode out a toxic climate in Zimbabwe and warned that a relentless foreign currency crisis, now aggravated by a slide in foreign direct investment (FDI), posed serious threats to business.

CBZ called for the acceleration of ongoing moves by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to reengage the international community.

It noted that unlocking bilateral financial support remained the cornerstone on which Zimbabwe’s economy would return to stability.

“The implementation of macroeconomic reforms and the liberalisation of the foreign exchange market on the back of foreign currency shortages and in the absence of meaningful FDI and bilateral support, pose a short to medium threat to the business operating environment,” it said.

“The continued improvement in the relationship with the international community will hopefully unlock the much-needed foreign currency inflows and enhance the exploitation of vast opportunities that Zimbabwe offers,” said CBZ.

Global Finance chose Standard Bank as the best bank in Africa because of its continental strategy which also rides on “best-in-class banking technology”.

“The group delivered sustainable earnings growth and improved returns, underpinned by the strength and breadth of our client franchise,” said Sim Tshabalala, Standard Bank Group CEO.

Standard Bank is Africa’s largest lender by assets and has a presence in 20 countries on the continent.

“Standard Bank has a strong position in South Africa as a market leader in card products, mortgages, retail and corporate deposits.

It has 48 322 employees, including 32 876 in South Africa and 14 831 in other African countries, as well as 615 international employees. Its Liberty Holdings subsidiary offers insurance and investment solutions to corporate and individual clients, as well as retirement funds across sub-Saharan Africa,” said the report.