Goldman Sachs banking on SA in drive to tap into Africa

By Jacqueline Mackenzie and Vernon Wessels

(Bloomberg) – Goldman Sachs Group got approval from South African regulators to operate a bank, as the Wall Street firm seeks to tap into fast-growing economies on the continent.

The company also became a member of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s interest-rate and currency-derivatives market, Goldman Sachs said in a statement on Monday. It will offer fixed-income products, foreign exchange and South African government securities, to corporate and institutional investors.

Goldman Sachs, which has been present in South Africa for more than 20 years, in December appointed Jonathan Penkin as head of the local business. The firm already provides advisory, wealth- and asset-management services to corporations, investment firms, government institutions and individuals.

The expansion comes as brokerages including Macquarie Group, Arqaam Capital, Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse Group either pare back their operations or close down some businesses because of a moribund South African economy. Still, the country has the biggest, most liquid and most sophisticated capital markets on the continent, which is home to six of the world’s fastest growing economies.