Interview: Mauritius’ bank chair says Seychelles branch should be operational by March 2017
The Chairman of SBM Holdings Ltd Kee Chong Li Kwong Wing. (Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Seven months after being granted its license from the Central Bank of Seychelles, the State Bank of Mauritius has said that it is recruiting a chief executive and plans to launch its operation in the archipelago by the end of the first quarter of 2017.
SBM will become the second bank from Mauritius to offer its services in Seychelles after the Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB).
SBM was granted its license in March following a banking request made in October 2015.
SNA speaks to the Chairman of SBM Holdings Ltd Kee Chong Li Kwong Wing on why Seychelles was chosen as the bank aims to diversify its base of operations in the region, as well as on the services the bank is planning to offer to Seychellois clients.
SNA: Mr Kee Chong Li Kwong Wing, what steps have been taken since the Central Bank of Seychelles granted a license in March to the State Bank of Mauritius to open a branch in Seychelles?
KC: Since we obtained the license, the State Bank of Mauritius (SBM) has set up a team in order to meet the requirements of the banking license. The team is also tasked with following up on the implementation of initiatives that will lead to the establishment of banking operations in Seychelles. This includes a recruitment exercise for a Chief Executive Officer for the Seychelles operation, the setting up of a board of directors and the selection of a strategic location to house the business.
SNA: What are the conditions attached to the license?
KC: This is mainly the legal provisions required in preparation for the State Bank of Mauritius to launch its operations in Seychelles. You will understand that we cannot provide details at this stage.
SNA: What has motivated SBM to invest in Seychelles?
KC: It's been 42 years since the SBM launched its operations in Mauritius. Today it is a strong financial group, standing as the second largest bank in the country and enjoys a solid reputation particularly in the field of Retail Banking.
However, the Group's revenues remains focussed at the local level and there is a need to diversify our activities abroad.
Building on its expertise in the banking sector, SBM has for some time now been looking for expansion opportunities in the region, namely the Indian Ocean and in east African countries.
Nestled in the heart of the Indian Ocean and ideally located on the Asia-Africa corridor, Seychelles fits perfectly within the group’s regional expansion strategy. This also represents an opportunity to better support our customers who have settled in the archipelago and expand our customer base.
SNA: How was Seychelles identified?
KC: Following fact-finding visits in Seychelles, SBM has identified a strong demand for banking products such as the financing of small and medium enterprises, factoring services, leasing and offshore banking among Seychellois customers.
SNA: Are there any new products and services that will be offered to Seychellois customers and other residents of the archipelago?
KC: SBM plans to offer a wide range of products and services, including treasury, asset management, brokerage services, bank cards, e-commerce, online banking and mobile banking solutions.
SNA: Who will be in charge of the operations of the SBM Bank (Seychelles) Ltd?
KC: A recruitment exercise is ongoing and the selection process is currently underway.
SNA: When is SBM Bank (Seychelles) Ltd scheduled to open its doors?
KC: We are planning to start our operations by the end of the first quarter of 2017.
SNA: Where will the bank be based on Mahé?
KC: We are currently looking for a strategic location for our business.
SNA: What is the capital being invested in the Seychelles venture?
KC: We are planning to invest the capital that is required to meet the regulatory requirements and support the expansion of our operations in the Seychelles.