BARD Santner Markets Inc, a Harare-based banking and finance advisory firm, has expanded its operations to Victoria Falls by setting up Bard Santner Offshore Corporate Services to tap into the growth potential of the Victoria Falls Offshore Centre and other financial opportunities there.
The move is set to entrench localised expertise in identifying gaps within the market as well as build confidence within their customer base, Tatenda Hungwe, the company’s executive director, told The NewsHawks.
“Our growth strategy is to establish and enhance our service offering with local and international institutions so that there is localised expertise within the financial sector, that speaks to international capital,” he said.
Hungwe adds that the facility that they have set up will help corporates listed at the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange with administration, fiduciary and corporate administration services, among other offerings.
“The Victoria Falls Stock Exchange is an exchange seeking to be registered in the offshore financial sector. It has entities listed that require corporate services; what we are doing is simply laying the foundation for the needs of those companies registered in the offshore sector to be met,” said Hungwe.
The Victoria Falls Offshore Centre is an emerging regional financial hub, with the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange (VFEX), a United States dollar-indexed bourse which offers currency stability and certainty, as its commercial heartbeat.
The government set up an offshore financial centre in the resort city, the Victoria Falls Offshore Centre, chaired by Marc Holtzman, a veteran US banker with 35 years’ experience in emerging markets, which they aim to vie with the likes of Dubai and the Isle of Man to attract foreign investment.
Hungwe says the success of the project creates opportunity for them to tap into the offshore markets.
“Victoria Falls Offshore Centre is a tax-free zone that offers a range of financial services to international investors in banking, insurance and asset management, among others. It is in the Victoria Falls Special Economic Zone which was created to attract capital and we have seen it evolve into a competitive and attractive international investment platform. We see it as an opportunity in the transformation we believe this will bring to the country,” said Hungwe.
Bard’s expansion, which includes the opening of new offices in the resort town, follows a successful capital markets conference in London which was attended by companies, corporate executives and investors, from Zimbabwe and other countries.
The conference, organised by Bard and Financial Markets Indaba, opened new opportunities for Bard and other companies. Bard Santner, which strongly believes there is opportunity in every challenge, is the first financial institution to register and set-up in the Victoria Falls Offshore Centre.
Apart from being Zimbabwe’s premier tourism destination, with a global reputation and tourist source markets, Victoria Falls is slowly emerging as a true financial hub since the establishment of the Special Economic Zone, the US dollar-anchored stock exchange and the broader strategy of making it a regional financial centre in the mold of Mauritius.