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Interfin targets ‘pulsating brand presence’

INTERFIN Banking Corporation Ltd listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) last week on Monday. Our senior business reporter Bernard Mpofu spoke to the financial services company managing director, Raymond Njanike, soon after the first day of trade on the local bourse on his firm and the state of the banking sector in the country. Below are excerpts.

Mpofu: Interfin traded over 50 000 shares on its maiden trade. Were you expecting such volumes to trade and why?

Njanike: Activity on the ZSE is generally low and trading 53 390 shares (3% of the market) on the first day and at a premium is good. We also have to note that CFX shares were consolidated at a ratio of one new share for every thousand shares already held.

Mpofu: What is your bank’s market share and where do you see yourself in the short term?

Njanike: Our total market share is around 3% at the moment. The intention is to obviously establish a pulsating brand presence in a market that has characteristically been limited in innovate offerings. Once this presence is instituted, we intend to allow the value-enhancing distinctive of the brand to create the market growth so desired. This market growth is not just an intention, it is an outright possibility given the background of our resilience, market relevance, focus, aggression, passion for our clientele base and the totality of our motivation for innovation. Innovation is the blood of the bank and with it will come the drive towards market leadership.

Mpofu: There are some who argue that Zimbabwe’s banking sector is “over-banked”; do you agree?

Njanike: Zimbabwe has many banks for sure. However, many areas, in particular rural areas, remain un-banked. Having many players is not indicative of an over-banked economy. It depends on the level of activity of these many players and their effectiveness.

The market fundamentals at play today will obviously change tomorrow given the fast-paced global and local market changes. Our aim is not to offer historical and generic banking solutions but rather to satisfy today’s market while intentionally creating tomorrow’s markets.

We will satisfy markets as well as create new ones. Currently the challenge for banks has been to create solutions for industry (manufactures, miners, etc who are operating below capacity). Our banking focus is therefore unique and forward-leaning, and as much as there are many banks today, our motivation is to help the growth of our economy with an eventuality of creating a wider market base.

Mpofu: Are you anticipating any more mergers and takeovers from rival banks in the coming year? If so how prepared is your organisation to face fresh competition?

Njanike: Indeed there is a strong possibility given the current strategy where banks are consolidating to create strong capital base and underwriting capacity. A merger is only attractive and valuable where the partners are intentional about value-addition and creating hybrid institutions that will result in a migration from historical incapacities to capacitated banking institutions. Many may come, but we will be ready for competition and we still have the appetite to acquire similar strategic institutions. It is our distinctiveness that gives us a unique identity and it is these distinctions that will separate us from other players. In that regard we view competition positively and with expectancy.

Mpofu: In your view what measures should government put in place to ensure that banks are not exposed?

Njanike: It is the responsibility of the monetary authorities to ensure that the sector is safe and sound and to that end the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has done well in putting in place various measures to ensure stability.

The regulatory framework, however, must operate in sync with the banking environmental realities in Zimbabwe. Regulations must not be viewed or implemented as a dragon that comes in to swallow the chickens, but rather as the comfort that comes in to aid and enhance the operational framework of the sector. Therefore, there must be continued and improved liaison between the sector and the regulators in order to create collaborative efforts in growing the economy through a vibrant, ethical and resilient banking sector. In that regard regulations must address conditions in which the viability of banks is ensured and enhanced.

Government should, however, show support to the sector by spreading their banking across the sector. They should also come up with initiatives to support indigenous banks, which are naturally disadvantaged when compared to international banks.

Mpofu: Would your bank consider underwriting any deals (after the Art deal) under the prevailing market conditions?

Njanike: We are in the market looking for opportunities and growth for our customers and ourselves. We will definitely consider underwriting more deals in future should we come across good deals that give us value.

Mpofu: Before this merger (with CFX), this transaction faced some legal threats from former shareholders. Does the group continue to face legal challenges to this merger?

Njanike: All legal issues were looked at and dealt with before the merger, therefore, the risk and impact from former shareholders, if any, is very minimal.

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