The biggest banks in South Africa vs the world

The Banker has released its list of the top 1,000 banks in the world, including where South Africa’s biggest financial institutions fall in.

Despite facing adverse condition during 2016, with low commodity prices, high political risk and a volatile currency, South Africa’s banking firms managed to post a remarkable recovery in the last financial year.

All South African banks managed to climb in the Top 1000 rankings, with Standard Bank Group once again topping the regional table with $8.6 billion in Tier 1 capital. This represents a 15% increase from the 2016 ranking, accompanied by a notable jump in the global table from 160 to 149.

Rounding out the top three positions for Africa are other South African banks – FirstRand and Nedbank, second and third, respectively.

FirstRand’s Tier 1 marginally decreased by 3.8%. Nedbank posted a 24.7% gain, and was ranked one of the top gainers over the period.

Africa’s highest movers table is dominated by lenders from South Africa. In total, four banks make the top 10 in 2017, reflecting the strengthening of the rand during the period.

The Banker also pointed out that South Africa offers a diversified, sophisticated business model for its financial sector, which helped boost its performance.

Other banks that were listed in the top 25 banks in Africa include Capitec, Investec and African Bank, which managed to rank in at 25th.

Barclays Africa is ranked under the UK, as it had not yet been sold off, during the review period. As at September 2016, the group reported $6,275 in Tier 1 capital, which would place it third.

Rank Bank Tier 1 Capital
149 Standard Bank 8 627
183 FirstRand 6 899
Barclays Africa 6 275*
235 Nedbank 4 822
360 Investec 2 667
646 Capitec 1 153
888 African Bank 596

* September 2016

However, looking specifically at South Africa’s top 5 as ranked by the Banker, it is clear that the country’s banks are in a much stronger position than in 2016.

In the 2016 ranking, the top 5 banks shed more than 20% of their Tier 1 capital value – roughly R80 billion worth. In the 2017 ranking, there was a gain of R34 billion – not quite recovering all that was lost due to the chaotic events of 2016, but showing a positive shift.

Top 5 gain/loss

SA # World # Bank Tier 1 Capital 2016 ($m) Tier 1 Capital 2017 ($m) Change (%)
1 149 Standard Bank 7 475 8 627 +15.4%
2 183 FirstRand 7 177 6 899 -3.9%
3 235 Nedbank 3 864 4 822 +24.8%
4 360 Investec 2 236 2 667 +19.3%
5 646 Capitec 822 1 153 +40.3%
Top 5 21 574 24 168 +12.0%

Global banks

To be included in the 2017 edition of the Top 1000, banks must hold at least $442.12 million in Tier 1 capital, $38 million higher than 2016’s entry threshold.

US and Chinese banks retained their dominance, each accounting for four of the top eight spots in the Top 1000. The only change to the leaderboard sees Bank of America move from fifth to sixth at the expense of Agricultural Bank of China, the group said.

According to The Banker, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) stayed top for the fifth year running with $281 billion in tier 1 capital, the key measure of the ranking. China Construction Bank came in second place and Bank of China remained in fourth position.

While total Chinese bank profits fell by nearly 5% as a result of a tougher economic climate, other BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia and India – saw big improvements. Russian bank profits rose 369%, Brazil’s increased by 179% and India’s grew 26%.

Read: South African banks lost R80 billion in the past year

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The biggest banks in South Africa vs the world