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Standard Chartered Bank Gambia CEO Clarifies.

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By Buba Gagigo

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Standard Chartered Bank Gambia Ltd., Chuks Ugha said the only reason the Bank is divesting its shares in the Gambia is because of the scale of the country and has nothing to do with the current economic situation of the country.

“The only reason why the Bank is divesting its shares in the country is because of the scale of the country. It is not large enough. So what the Bank is doing is to exit smaller Markets so that they can put funds together and invest in markets that have bigger and larger opportunities. That’s the only reason. So the Bank has taken a decision to sell its shares in the Gambia to potential buyers, but it’s still very early days. The Central Bank has been informed and they are aware. Even in the process of divesting, it’s going to be regulated and approved by the Central Bank. It is not going to happen this month, it may take one year or two years, nobody knows,” the CEO told Kerr Fatou on the phone.

On Whether there are potential buyers lineup, he said: “There is no view on who the potential buyers will be right now.”

He also assured customers of the safety of their savings and a smooth transition if a potential buyer comes.

“Part Of The value that the bank will bring to any potential buyer is the customer base, obviously. So it is the interest of the Bank to make sure that the customer base is retained. We will also make sure that the transition from these current shareholders to the new shareholders will be as painless as possible. Apart from that it’s the proper and correct thing to do. The Central Bank of the Gambia as a regulator will ensure that there is a smooth transition from one buyer to another, and the impact to the customers are minimal as possible. Also to ensure safety of the funds of the shareholders,” he said.

Asked if the move is about the economy of the Gambia, the CEO responded: “The Gambia’s economy situation in particular has nothing to do with it. We would have been happy to continue if the economy had been large enough.”

The CEO further guaranteed his Staff that they will enjoy the benefits even if a buyer takes over: “We have an obligation to our staff to make sure they are cared for. The bank has already given instructions that nobody’s salary will be reduced, no benefit will be affected, evey staff is going to continue enjoying the same terms and conditions they have been enjoying so far” he said.

In addition, on whether or not customers can access their money any moment, Mr Ugha responded in the affirmative: “If you go to any Standard Chartered branch, you can access your money. I have been to most of the branches already and everything is working normal, It’s not my wish for customers to draw their money out but if that’s their decision, I will guarantee you that our branches are open, they will remain open and our staff are there to provide for customers,” he concluded.

This development followed the public notice by the Central Bank of The Gambia conveying that The Standard Chartered Bank Gambia Ltd, based on the Standard Chartered Bank Group’s decision wants to divest their business interest in The Gambia.

The decision according to the GBG statement is in line with the Group’s new business model and strategic repositioning, which requires divestiture from a number of African countries, including The Gambia and a few countries in the Middle East.

The statement added that The Group is in negotiation with potential investors to buy its shares in Standard Chartered Bank Gambia Ltd. The divestiture will not impact the operations of Standard Chartered Bank Gambia Ltd, as the bank will continue to operate normally.

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