Crown Agents Bank has appointed Duarte Pedreira as its global head of trade finance, effective immediately.

Pedreira, who joined Crown Agents Bank in 2016, will now focus solely on trade finance and is tasked with leading a broader strategy shift that will see the lender target clients in new international markets.

He will continue to be based in London and reports to Crown Agents Bank’s chief commercial officer, David Bee.

In his most recent posting at Crown Agents Bank, prior to a temporary shift into an advisory role in February, Pedreira served as head of international development organisations client coverage and trade finance portfolio management.

Prior to this, he also led the lender’s emerging and frontier markets client coverage business for a little over three years.

He tells GTR that the new title reflects Crown Agent Bank’s increasingly international focus. The London-headquartered bank recently established a subsidiary in Amsterdam and plans to open a US office soon.

“The reality is we are now a global institution,” Pedreira says. “We have been conducting trade finance since 2016, and the types of trade finance we do often have a very meaningful impact in emerging economies. Our focus has been mostly in Africa, but we are expanding significantly into places like Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, as well as emerging markets in Asia, hence the importance of these new offices.”

The bank’s new strategy is focused on regional expansion without altering its product mix or aggregator approach.

“Our clients are typically financial institutions in emerging markets, the very same FIs that provide us with local currency liquidity. This is key for our FX and payments business, which is used by development finance institutions, major banks and governments. It’s all interconnected,” he says.

In the past, the bank’s trade finance portfolio was largely comprised of letters of credit, though Pedreira says they are becoming a “smaller part” of the business and trade refinancing loans are a key growth area.

“We have some very interesting angles that we’re trying to capitalise on,” he tells GTR. For instance, the bank is exploring the possibility for clients to repay their loan facilities in local currency.

“You can see the potential impact in terms of the trade finance gap, which is exacerbated by hard currency shortages,” Pedreira says.

The move follows Crown Agents Bank’s hiring of Neeraj Kapur as group CEO in early 2024. The banker, who previously held senior roles in retail, corporate and SME banking, took over in February.

“Under the direction of our new CEO, the bank is looking to seriously engage in growing its trade finance book,” says Pedreira. “There is a refocusing on trade finance within the bank and how we can make our balance sheet work for our clients.”

Crown Agents Bank is also looking to bolster its trade finance division through additional hires. In particular, it is looking to establish a more formal trade sales team that will specialise in deal origination.