Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) has hired Stuart Hulks to fill the newly created role of global head of insurance and export credit agency (ECA).

Taking up the London-based position on November 9, Hulks will oversee the South African lender’s insurance placement and ECA strategy. According to the bank, he will “continue to  build a centre of excellence for these capabilities and lead the team to greater successes”.

Hulks boasts a 28-year career in the industry. He was most recently managing director, distribution and syndication, with Standard Bank’s London advisory business. He joined the bank as an executive in 2000, and his roles there include serving as senior vice-president of loan syndication and sales.

RMB, a division of FirstRand Bank, describes Hulks as “a well-recognised face in global banking, with a long tenure of service complementing a well-liked personality”.

“His skills in growing an insurance capability as a risk mitigation tool within banking and his depth of relationships in the market are highly valued as the RMB and FirstRand Group continue their focus on growth in Africa.”

The bank tells GTR that Hulks’ new role will centralise work until now carried out independently by the trade finance and ECA/investment banking divisions. The relevant teams in those areas will now report to Hulks in London.

Hulks will report to Jo Maharaj, global head of loan syndications, insurance and ECA, and Martin Richardson, CEO of RMB’s London branch.

Hulks says Africa is still an “unfamiliar market” for many ECAs and insurers. “Developing a solid track record… founded on a consistent approach and transparency around risk and the strategic rationale for doing the transactions that RMB and FirstRand Group support is paramount.”

“It is this transparent approach that we will be building upon to continue to develop private and public partner support across RMB and FirstRand Groups transaction capability within investment banking, global markets, trade finance and beyond.”

RMB says ECA funding plays an important role financing growth and infrastructure in Africa, where risk appetite remains limited. The bank says it has tracked US$34bn of ECA-backed financing on the continent over the past financial year.

“We are witnessing ECA mandates expand to trade activities and Export Credit Insurance Corporation-supported transactions remaining critical for our South African clients who are exporters of capex and services. To act on these opportunities requires specialist support and experienced leadership,” it adds.

In July last year RMB promoted its then-head of trade finance, Minos Gerakaris, to be the head of insurance and financial services providers within a newly formed financial institutions group. The bank then appointed Louis du Plessis as Gerakaris’ replacement.