Qiu Zhikun is chief executive officer of Bank of China's Johannesburg branch. Zhao Yanrong / China Daily
Chinese financial institutions are a Growing presence in Africa
Liu Yagan is someone who can rightly claim to have had a significant impact on the African banking sector.
The 40-year-old was one of the chief architects of Chinese state-owned bank ICBC's $5.5 billion (4.27 billion euros) purchase of a 20 percent stake in Standard Bank, Africa's largest bank, which remains South Africa's largest ever foreign direct investment deal.
"We needed to find the best way to enter the continent. Africa is very big with 54 different countries, many of them with a different culture. We needed to find a good target with a very strong presence not just in one country but in many countries," he says.
At the time of the 2007 deal, Liu was deputy chairman and general manager in the strategic investment department in the bank's Beijing head office.
He is now chief representative of ICBC Africa, based in Cape Town, where the bank opened an office of its own in 2011.
Liu says the investment partnership has worked well for both parties.
"The first year we worked together, we introduced 700 Chinese corporations operating in Africa to Standard Bank which opened accounts. You can't imagine that would have happened without our investment," he says.
"After six years, we cooperate very closely and we have also learnt a lot about Africa from them."
Africa has traditionally been a lucrative - and also risky - stomping ground for Western rather than Asian banks.