Absa Group said on 8 May it was marking a "historic milestone" with the official launch of a non-banking subsidiary in Beijing, China.

In the statement, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed diversified financial services group said its branch office in China will operate under a wholly foreign owned enterprise licence which permits the financial institution to provide general advisory services to clients based in China for concluding transactions across the African continent.

The office would also enable the distribution of economic or general securities research reports permitted by Chinese regulation to corporate and institutional clients in China and across the African markets.

Arrie Rautenbach, group chief executive officer of Absa Group said: “The African continent is endowed with talent, mineral wealth and a young population – and is poised to play an increasingly influential role in global trade, as investors recognise its status as the last true frontier in global growth.

"Through this expansion, Absa Group isn't merely acquiring a new location; we're affirming our dedication to expanding our global presence and playing our part in facilitating growth on the continent.”

The China-Africa investment relationship has flourished over the past few decades, with China emerging as the continent’s largest bilateral trade partner, the statement continued, fuelled by Chinese investment in Africa’s vast natural resources and infrastructure projects, creating huge commercial opportunities for both regions.

Rautenbach added: “Our decision to establish a presence in China was driven by our ambition to better connect trade, investment flows and clients into Africa, where we will serve them across our extensive continental footprint. Absa Group intimately understands the continent and seeks to be a partner of choice for organisations looking to access opportunities on the continent.”

Charles Russon, CE of Absa Corporate & Investment Bank said: “The new office will enable Absa Group to offer local support to Chinese clients and stakeholders to conclude transactions across the African continent, helping to support clients’ needs, goals, and ambitions. This is part of a wider commitment from Absa to expand its operations with an international presence in strategic markets and offer deep expertise in African markets to its overseas clients.”

He added: “Our presence in China will help to firmly establish Absa’s capability to provide general advisory services to clients based in China for concluding transactions across the African continent. This will not only give us a physical presence in the region but also help us to meet the needs of our clients operating in this rapidly growing market.

“Being present in China allows us to be close to clients who see trade and investment in Africa as key to their strategic ambitions."

Absa Group offers an integrated set of products and services across personal and business banking, corporate and investment banking, wealth and investment management and insurance.

It owns majority stakes in banks in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania (Absa Bank Tanzania and National Bank of Commerce), Uganda and Zambia and has insurance operations in Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia.

The company also has representative offices in China, Namibia, Nigeria and the United States, as well as securities entities in the United Kingdom and the United States, along with technology support colleagues in the Czech Republic.