A delegation of French and Djiboutian businesses led by Banque Pour Le Commerce et L’Industrie – Mer Rouge (BCIMR) in Djibouti and BRED Banque Populaire, France its, mother company, visited Addis Ababa on September 10 and 11.
Leading the delegation, Mr. Ali Abayazid Moussa, Chief Operating Officer of BCIMR, said “we have clients operating not only in Djibouti but also in Ethiopia, Somaliland, Yemen and Dubai, so in this visit we are following the circuit of our clients. BCIMR’s radius of action lies in this region.”
He further said that their mission is supported and accompanied by the mother company BRED – Banque Populaire, France, the second largest group in France with a presence in over 70 countries in the world.
BCIMR is the first bank in Djibouti with share representation of 51pct of BRED, 33pct the Republic of Djibouti and 16pct the Yemeni state. BCIMR represents 60pct of the market in Djibouti. “We have reached our potential in Djibouti and we are now going along with the operations of our clients in Ethiopia, Somaliland, Yemen, and even South Sudan. That is why although the banking system in Ethiopia is still closed we believe and hope that it will open up one day and it will allow us to work then. We will also be the first to work with Ethiopian banks because we know the circuit and the market very well,” said Ali Abayazid.
A very diverse group of 10 members, ranging from banking to insurance and aviation, took part in this visit financed by BRED and BCIMR with its clients.
Detailing the group of business men that make up the visiting delegation, Emmanuel Lemoigne, BRED’s Directeur Central said, “we have a company dealing with medical products and health care; a long time Canadian partner (since 1988) – the International Bank of Canada, an insurance college [Ecole Superieure D’assurance] whose chairman has accompanied us.” He also noted an economist, who manages a consultancy company that develops economic models and statistics; a subsidiary in Geneva –BIC BRED whose activities are focused on trade finances, and an airline company which operates in Africa and in Asia, among others. “These are all either clients and/or partners who are looking to further enhance their markets,” he said.
Ali Abayazid, on his part, said that today the role of the banker who simply fills boxes is completely revolutionized; “We are pushing the limits of the bank’s functions. All the members of the delegation are the best ambassadors for Ethiopia’s and Djibouti’s economies through their customers. In addition to their areas of expertise they are also consultants to their clients to further enhance their trade,” he said.
This is a first trip but we plan to repeat it as we have a long term strategy with our clients, said Emmanuel Lemoigne, hinting that they will be back with maybe 20 or 30 other clients.
Jerome Perrin, Director of Corporate Banking, BCIMR Djibouti, remarked that this visit will introduce the Horn of Africa to various partners and clients with the head office in Paris, BRED. He further said that it is an opportunity to facilitate potential commercial exchange in the area, in the future.
The delegation started its tour on September 9 in Djibouti, showcasing its network and activities and economic potentials for the next 2 to 4 years in the Horn of Africa. They arrived in Addis Ababa on September 10 for a brief visit to present their activities and acquaint themselves with the economic situation of the country as well as “follow the interest of potential French investors in the horn of Africa in general and not only Djibouti or Ethiopia.”
The delegation left for Dubai on September 11, to present their activities to their partners and clients in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E); “because many of our clients in Djibouti and Ethiopia have a business relationship with this country,” said Jerome Perrin.
This is a promotion operation he explained, and a way of being always at the side of our clients to facilitate their operations. We were in Somaliland on September 8th, following our Djiboutian clients who are working with Somaliland. “We’re not here to make business deals, just to follow our clients and to visit them in their areas of operation, while also promoting our brand,” said Jerome Perrin. “This is a contact operation to promote BCIMR and to be close to our Djiboutian clients working with Ethiopia.”
For over 10 years BRED has developed an international strategy based on areas of operation, in Asia, pacific and in the Horn of Africa with its subsidiary BCIMR. It has a strong financial profile with 2.6 billion Euros worth of equity and solvency ratio of 13.4 percent. In 2011 BRED improved slightly its net banking income to 957 million Euros and consolidated profit was down by 4.5 percent, to 233 million Euros, according to Emmanuel Lemoigne.
“This trip to Ethiopia, with customers and partners, can give you an idea of the strategy of BRED that always strives to be close to its customers and help them to continue to play their role, in supporting and financing the economy,” he reiterated.
With the financial sector in Ethiopia being rather closed, Capital asked how BRED plans to work here. “Right now it is not a strategy to enter the Ethiopian financial market but to closely follow its clients as well as BCIMR’s. We are not here to make business but to follow our clients in their region of operation,” said Emmanuel Lemoigne.
In Ethiopia, BRED has clients such as France Telecom, which is now running Ethio-telecom on a management contract.
“BRED is a medium bank in corporate banking. We have developed a strategy based on cash management and innovative new technology. Our corporate portfolio is 700 clients, which developed a turnover over 200 million Euros. We finance our clients, of course, when they invest abroad, so if a client comes to BRED for finance to develop an Ethiopian project we will be looking into the project, discuss it and if we consider it that it is good, and has a good pay back scheme, then we shall finance it.”
However, “we’ve developed offices in Laos and Niger,” said Emmanuel Lemoigne adding that in the former’s case they’ve created a subsidiary with a local government bank to develop retail banking activity, and presently have several branches in that country.
Asked whether, BRED’s aim in this visit is to assure clients operating in the Horn of Africa of its support, considering that the financial market in Europe is in great difficulty, Emmanuel Lemoigne was quick to respond: “Not at all. BRED is not in a financial difficulty. It has got a strong financial profile. This trip with its clients is meant to discover the horn of Africa that represents opportunities for our clients that operate in France, Djibouti and in Ethiopia. In the future we will see if we can to penetrate the market, and do more in Ethiopia.”
BRED was created as a cooperative bank in 1919 in France and is now the largest regional banking group within BPCE, France’s second largest banking group. BRED operates in the greater Paris region and in the French overseas departments and territories through some of its 357 branches located in all four corners of the world.
It currently has 121,500 member shareholders and a capital of nearly 432.5 million Euros as of December 2011.
The Delegation from the BRED bank and its subsidiary in Djibouti BCIMR attracted local high flying guests at the dinner-cocktail program at the Sheraton Addis on Monday evening, designed to introduce the financial firm, including Samuel Tafesse owner of Sunshine Construction Private Limited Company.
Other prominent figures in the Ethiopian business world included Tsegaye Abebe former chairman of Ethiopian Horticulture Producers, Exporters Association (EHPEA) and the owner of several horticulture farms as well as Tadesse Tilahun CEO of National Oil Company (NOC).
Abdoudlkader Ballah Chehem, communication manager, BCIMR, contributed to this article.