Crown Agents Bank has expanded its trade finance team with the appointment of two new vice-presidents, Kenton Hartwell and Yasmine Thiam.

Hartwell and Thiam are both based in London and report to Duarte Pedreira, who was named as the bank’s head of trade finance in August last year.

Hartwell, who assumed his role in December, joined with 20 years of experience in trade finance from Standard Bank. In his new role, he focuses on originating trade finance from exporters/beneficiaries and from the secondary market.

“Kenton was at Standard Bank for nearly 20 years, where he was originating structured trade and commodity finance transactions across the African footprint,” Pedreira tells GTR. “So he’s a bit of a champion of trade finance in one sense, and of Africa in another sense. He brings a wealth of experience to the team, which is being used to channel our efforts into an efficient and pragmatic origination strategy.”

Thiam, who joined Crown Agents Bank earlier this month, focuses on originating trade finance with banks in West Africa, as well as the Caribbean. She was previously relationship manager in ABC Bank’s trade finance team, before which she worked at FBN Bank.

“Yasmine is from Côte d’Ivoire and is a French speaker,” Pedreira says. “Her appointment is a testament of the commitment we have vis-à-vis West Africa in general and with an emphasis on Francophone Africa. She brings a number of opportunities to us in terms of direct origination and in some of the countries where we didn’t have direct relationships in the past. She will also help to develop the relationships we already have with some of the West African central banks and governments.”

The appointments are the latest move in the bank’s expansion strategy following its acquisition last year by Helios Investors, a fund advised by the Africa-focused private investment firm Helios Investment Partners.

“For the time being we are happy where we are in terms of team size,” Pedreira says. “Kenton and Yasmine complete the team in terms of origination. We will be expecting a significant expansion of business volumes around payments and cash management, treasury and also trade finance, but the team size where it is gives me the confidence to look ahead into 2017 and build that trade finance book and consolidate our position in the markets that we cover.”