Mauritius: Limiting Ourselves To Treaty Networks Will Not Be Sustainable

Last Updated: 22 September 2016
Article by Sangeetha Ramkelawon

What are the prospects of Global Business Banking in Mauritius?

Global Business Banking in Mauritius offers various potential for investment here and for institutional investors to use Mauritius as a platform for their investments globally. Within the financial services eco-system, Global Business is the most dynamic segment. Despite, the revision of the Mauritius-India DTAA, Mauritius remains the favoured investment platform to invest into India. The prospects and success of Global Business in Mauritius so far is largely due to the bilateral treaty we have with India. Existing clients investing into India will stay and grow but attracting new clients can be a challenge. Having said this, we need to tap into the opportunities in the African continent. Converging towards Africa is an opportunity to expand our strategy for Global Business as Mauritius is well positioned to be the platform for investment into Africa. Limiting ourselves to treaty networks will not be sustainable. With the different positive and advantageous features of the Mauritius economic regime, Mauritius has the potential to steer investment into Africa. The challenge is to deal with more than 50 African nations, each of them having its own legislation, regulatory framework, political environment and business regime.

To what extent Mauritius as an IFC has adequate structures to meet the requirements of Global Business?

The success of Global Business as I mentioned earlier is due to the historic and diplomatic relationship our jurisdiction has had and still enjoys with India. The eco-system for financial services has acquired relevant experience and growth during the last three decades. The diverse range of distinctive features of this eco-system has attracted a significant number of institutions here. We have a legislative framework, favourable time-zone, business friendly environment and a dynamic work force. However, there are still some challenges that we are facing. With the increasing need to create substance in the IFC, it is important to consider enhancing our standard/quality of living, improving air connectivity by opening our skies to renowned airline companies and enhance our education system that would attract foreign competencies/specialists that will help position Mauritius as an IFC of choice. This is the main differentiator when you compare Mauritius as an IFC to Singapore or Dubai.

It is expected that initiatives such as the launch of the Financial Services Institute (FSI), is an important step to tackle the issue of mismatch of skills in our sector. It is also important to note that the MBA has already started doing this by making courses available to colleagues interested to grow and develop in the Banking sector. Moreover, I would add that PR/communication is also an important aspect we need to focus on. We need to be more proactive- to increase the visibility of Mauritius as an IFC which would eventually reduce the usual bad press that tarnishes our reputation time and again. We need to prepare ourselves on this front with so many global initiatives impacting us such as BEPs, CRS, FATCA among others.

What is the strategy of Banque de Mascareignes to attract multinationals and global investors in Mauritius?

We belong to Groupe BPCE, the second largest banking group in France We leverage our group network including Natixis (Investment Banking arm) and have started to engage with our partners through road-shows to promote the Mauritius IFC. We are also re-enforcing our brand in order to create more buzz on our services and products. Banque des Mascareignes works a lot on building relationships. Each and every client has a dedicated relationship manager and we seize every single opportunity to meet investors; Banque des Mascareignes will be one of the sponsors of the Africa Partnership Conference 2016 organized by the Board of Investment and which we be held on the 20th and 21st September 2016. We have recently reorganised and strengthened our team in the segment I am responsible for. The success of our business is due to our people and to the team work that exists.

Groupe BPCE is the 2nd largest banking group in France. Does the group have the ambition to expand its strategy in the African continent?

We are already present in Africa: Cameroun, Congo Brazzavile, Tunisia, Madagascar and Mauritius. In the retail category, Natixis Algérie and Bred Mer Rouge (a subsidiary of Banque Populaire) are in Djibouti. Natixis, the investment arm of Groupe BPCE is involved in trading activites in Africa. Furthermore, La Coface, a subsidiary of Natixis, is also present in South Africa.

Finally, what is your assessment of Mauritius as an International Financial Centre?

We are a developing country and have been successful in building our financial services sector. If we compare ourselves to established IFCs such as Singapore, Dubai and Johannesburg, closer to home, we still have to fine-tune certain aspects as mentioned earlier- opening the skies, improving connectivity and quality/standard of life to encourage and welcome foreign expertise/skills. As an IFC we should be able to attract many more international players such as Banks and law firms to our country.

With a stable social and economic environment, multi-lingual and diverse culture, highly educated workforce and sound legislative framework, Mauritius is well poised as an emerging IFC in the region. Investing in competencies and capacity building will, with no doubt, further enhance Mauritius as an IFC.

Sangeetha Ramkelawon is member of the CDG of Banque des Mascareignes (Comité de Direction Générale) and is the Director Grands Comptes- responsible for Corporate, International and Global Business Banking since June 2016. Prior to this, she was the Head of Banking at Deutsche Bank where she spent nearly 13 years. She was responsible for the banking division including Treasury of Deutsche Bank.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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