Standard Bank Plc has been granted a licence by Dubai’s Financial Services Authority to establish its first full overseas branch within the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). Standard Bank believes this development will both reinforce its existing franchise in the Middle East, which began with the setting up of a representative office in April 1997, as well as provide the base to further tap into the growing business opportunities in a region that is currently experiencing the highest growth rates since the 1980s.

Standard hopes to consolidate a strong position in the regional gold markets and build on its recent success in the field of Islamic finance. This was highlighted by a ground-breaking US$200mn Gold sukuk DMCC launched in May 2005, and Standard aims to grow its business in global markets, trade finance, private banking and asset management.

Standard Bank Dubai’s GM, Jeffrey Rhodes says, “The decision by the DFSA to grant us a banking licence concludes a personal journey for me that started in February 1997 when I was sent to Dubai with a briefcase and aspirations to establish a franchise for the bank in the Middle East. It has now resulted in Standard Bank Plc choosing Dubai and DIFC to locate its first full overseas branch. I firmly believe that the bank will build on the platform for growth that has now been created.”

Martin Botha, Standard Bank Plc’s managing director responsible for the region adds, “This development confirms Standard Bank’s commitment to the Middle East and is part of the group’s ambitious expansion plans for its international wholesale operations. Our vision is to grow the Dubai branch significantly over the next three years in order to take advantage of the growing economic and political importance of this region in a global context.”