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The offshore market has become a major focus point for the government of Mauritius and the country’s banking sector. The Bank of Mauritius’ governor recently disclosed that 60% of the banking sector’s total assets are now offshore.
Merely 6 of the country’s 21 banks are engaged predominantly in foreign banking yet the offshore market represents over half of banks’ deposit and loan books. Funds mobilised outside Mauritius account for 55% of total deposits, and 58% of loans granted are for offshore entities.
Mauritian banks have benefited from diversifying their loan bases in line with the country’s diversified economy. The Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) earns more than 40% of its profits from international operations. Earlier this year MCB disclosed that the firm is restructuring a plan to separate its banking and non-banking activities as subsidiaries under a new holding company.
As part of a $161m capital-raising plan, the bank launched a bond in June that saw major increase due to over subscription. The restructuring came after the central bank indicated it would like to see the larger domestic banks create holding companies.
The newer banks are following the double-act of MCB and the State Bank of Mauritius into the sub-region. The country’s newest bank, BanyanTree Bank, operated by India’s BanyanTree Group, opened in February 2013, and the central bank is keen to attract more international banks.
Leading Chinese and Indian banks have queried about the prospects of operating in Mauritius. Mauritius has made it clear that they would be welcome if they can prove to have viable and feasible business models of interest to the country.