MAPUTO, French banking group Societe Generale (SG) has pledged to expand its business in Mozambique with the hope of achieving a market share of 10 per cent.

“We are not here for the short term, but to develop long-lasting and trusting relations with the Mozambican government and Mozambican clients,” Alexandre Maymat, the Societe Generale deputy director responsible for Africa, told a media conference at the inauguration of the new Maputo headquarters of SG-Mozambique Thursday.

SG entered the Mozambican banking industry through an agreement in March 2015, under which it became the majority shareholder in what was then the Mozambican branch of the Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB).

The Chief Executive Officer of SG-Mozambique, Laurent Thong Vanh, said SG had injected capital of 18 million US dollars, giving it a 65 per cent stake in MCB-Mozambique.

MCB only had two branches in Mozambique, in Maputo and its twin city of Matola, concentrating mainly on corporate clients. Since taking over MCB, SG has invested a further three million USD to upgrade the bank’s computer platforms, and has doubled its staff from 50 to 100.

Thong Vanh said the bank will expand to other major cities, such as Beira, Nampula and Pemba, but that its retail operations, especially in more remote areas, will depend heavily on mobile banking.

Rather than build large numbers of branches, SG-Mozambique will operate via “banking agents” (such as petrol stations) providing its clients with an electronic wallet, allowing them to make transactions via a smart phone.

SG stresses that, for the time being, one of its priorities will remain corporate banking, “an area in which it has a competitive advantage due to the reputation and stability of the group”. It has focused on sectors where it believes it has a world leadership position, such as the oil and gas industries. In Mozambique, it has become the financial advisor to Anadarko, the US company that is the operator of offshore Area One of the Rovuma Basin, in the far north, where vast reserves of natural gas have been discovered.

In future, said Maymat, the bank intends to expand its retail business. “We expect retail banking to become decisive for profitable banking”, he said, mentioning 10 per cent as a target market share.