Pan-European banking and financial services provider UniCredit will celebrate 45 years of successful service in South Africa this year, having provided support for European companies entering African markets from its Johannesburg-based representative office since 1972.
UniCredit is a commercial bank, headquartered in Milan, in Italy, with a unique western, central and eastern European network that provides expertise for 25-million clients globally. Through its South African subsidiary, the company combines local presence with global best-in-class capabilities to provide support for European multinationals seeking to establish themselves in African markets. By aligning themselves with UniCredit, clients are afforded “unparalleled access” to one of the largest commercial banking networks in the world, providing connections for leading banks in its 14 core markets and in 18 other countries, highlights director Dr Christian Nägele.
“Many Italian corporates – small, medium-sized or large enterprises across many different industries – that have identified business opportunities in South Africa, and further into sub-Saharan Africa, have turned to UniCredit for banking support for their endeavours on the African continent.”
Nägele describes the Italian-South African business sector as a vibrant one, with South Africa forming the largest commercial market in Africa and the ideal gateway for Italian and European companies wishing to enter the region. “UniCredit, through its extensive knowledge of the South African market and long-standing relationships with key role-players in various sectors, is proud to assist its Italian clients in entering the local markets, paving the way for successful business in this most important market in Southern Africa.”
He notes that Italian companies are especially active in the South African renewable-energy industry, especially regarding solar power, as well as the construction sector, where they are often engaged in large infrastructure projects. The supply of plant equipment and aeronautic systems are also key strengths of the Italian business community.
Importantly, Nägele also highlights that, despite regulatory and economic uncertainty in the country, Italian perceptions of the South African business environment are generally very positive, with the local institutional environment – including the setting up and registration of companies, opening of bank accounts and general availability of qualified staff – regarded as being well-structured and efficient. Local law firms, auditors and banks are, moreover, readily available to provide professional and effective services for new entrants and investors.
Demonstrating the calibre of its services, last month, UniCredit was ranked the number one company for cash management services in 11 countries – including Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Turkey – in business and finance magazine Euromoney’s Cash Management Survey for 2017.
The annual survey provides an overview of the leading providers of cash management products and services globally, with responses from more than 25 000 businesses and 2 500 financial institutions providing a comprehensive ranking of companies.
“Cash management is a core service for our clients and this award demonstrates the excellence of our comprehensive product suite, designed for corporates of all sizes, from small-capital ventures to large multinationals. To be recognised by this survey – which is based on their feedback – is a fantastic sign for us and a validation of what we strive to achieve,” says UniCredit corporate and investment banking co- head Gianfranco Bisagni.