Bridging between investors and opportunities in Guinea

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Banque de Développement de Guinée bridges the gap between investors and opportunities in Guinea

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 April, 2018, 10:05am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 April, 2018, 10:05am

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As the first and only investment bank in Guinea, Banque de Développement de Guinée, (BDG) plays a key role in driving the Republic of Guinea’s long-term development and growth.

Its expertise and network, both in Guinea and China, are perfectly timed, as the West African country recovers from an economic crisis and turns the throttle on growth, specifically by opening up to China.

Owned by a consortium of private shareholders based in Hong Kong, BDG is creating strong business ties between Chinese investors and entrepreneurs and Guinean businesses.

“Our shareholders set up a development bank here to help grow the economy of Guinea,” says David Ng, BDG’s managing director, who has 35 years of experience with banking and financial institutions in Hong Kong, including at JP Morgan Chase and Bank of East Asia.

“We saw that there was a lack of investment banking services here and we knew that the country has many projects being carried out by Chinese companies.”

Chinese investment in Africa is indeed booming, with China became the continent’s largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2016. In September 2017, Guinea’s President Alpha Condé visited China, deepening ties between the two countries, specifically in the context of the Sino-Guinea comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.

“It makes sense to me that, due to this increasing Chinese investment, there must be a key role to be played by a Hong Kong banker based in Guinea,” says Mr. Ng.

“As of January 2018, Guinea's President decreed BDG to be the only non-government member of the working committee responsible for identifying and monitoring all projects eligible for Chinese funding.”

Local and international expertise

Established in 2013, BDG’s Hong Kong roots give it a robust corporate governance with a strong commitment to compliance, internal control and enterprise risk management. The bank follows international standards and best practices. It has been recently admitted as a member of the London Metal Exchange, thanks to the leadership of their non-executive Chairman, Andrew Chak, who is based in London.

To serve its clients, the bank needed local expertise and hired the finest the country had to offer. Camara Fatoumata Toure has more than a decade of private and business banking experience in PNC Bank and Citibank in Washington DC, as well as a background in promoting cooperation and partnerships between Africa, the US and European companies. She returned to her native Guinea in 2013, as chief of staff in the Ministry of Tourism before coming on board as deputy managing director of BDG in 2016.

Bridging the gap between investors and projects

As an investment bank—as opposed to a commercial bank—BDG’s main emphasis is to act as the bridge between investors, entrepreneurs, and project developers and to pinpoint the best sources of finance and equipment. It also provides advisory services.

“If someone wants to invest in a certain project and they need financial advice, we provide them with a brief panorama of the country and suggest how to allocate their investment,” Mr. Ng explains.

“If they want to start a project and there is equipment to purchase, we can arrange lease finance for the machinery. Technically, it is not mandatory for us to invest directly, or to make loans, but it is within our discretion to do so on a project-by-project basis.”

The bank’s ultimate objective is to find long-term strategic investors whose goals are aligned with the national interest of Guinea.

“We hope to select projects of fair value, partners with strong technical expertise and arrange a viable financial structure for all parties It is important to consider in equal measure the risks and benefits for both the State and the strategic partners for each and every single project,” concluded Mr. Ng.