Ex-Standard Bank veteran Francois Roux has joined SBM Bank (Mauritius) as its head of trade finance, GTR has learned on the sidelines of its East Africa Trade & Commodity Finance Conference in Nairobi.

In his new position, he tells GTR that he is responsible for attaining the bank’s “rightful share” of the domestic trade finance business and for building its East African FI banking capability. “On the back of that we will also look to participate in trade finance transactions in East Africa, primarily in the structured trade and commodity finance space – through partner banks in East Africa,” he says.

In addition to cultivating relationships with local partner banks, Roux also plans to reach out to other regional trade partners, such as the likes of the Africa Trade Insurance Agency (ATI), to help de-risk the bank’s trade finance transactions.

Roux joined the bank on May 1 from Standard Bank, where he had been for 35 years, most recently as head of trade finance, commercial banking, rest of Africa – responsible for 14 African countries. The bank has not yet appointed a replacement.

There was a massive opportunity within the bank to become more proactive in the way we do trade finance business. Francois Roux, SBM

As part of his new remit at SBM, Roux will be working within the bank’s strategy of leveraging off its Mauritian entity to assist trade flows from East Africa into India (where the bank already has four branches).

“That’s one of the reasons I’m on board,” he says. “I saw that there was a massive opportunity within the bank to become more proactive in the way we do trade finance business, and that I could play a role in that with my Africa experience.”

“The fact that we have branches in India facilitates the transaction end-to-end, so we don’t need to rely on another bank in India,” he adds.

In the last decade, Mauritius has established itself as a trade finance hub, and as a result, Roux explains, banks are now stepping up and becoming a lot more visible in the country – another reason for his move.

“A further important factor is the fact that both Mauritius and SBM are investment grade, which means that the market will respect us and see us as an entity that they could leverage off to de-risk their trade books,” he says.

Roux will be growing the team in Mauritius in the near term, and has already made a hire within the bank: Daniel Mainda, previously on secondment with the bank, has joined the trade finance team in Mauritius, covering FI trade finance in East Africa.

Roux’s responsibilities extend to building SBM’s trade finance capacity and growing the number of dedicated trade sales people within the bank.
“It’s important that I hire people early on in the process that I can train from day one,” he says.

In his new position, Roux will work closely with Aslam Taher, the bank’s head of institutional banking.