A bank specialising in capital markets and investment and corporate banking has been granted a licence to operate in Australia.
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has granted Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank (Crédit Agricole CIB) a licence to operate as a foreign authorised deposit-taking institution (foreign ADI) under the Banking Act 1959.
Crédit Agricole CIB, an arm of the French retail banking group Crédit Agricole, specialises in the businesses of capital markets and investment and corporate banking.
While Crédit Agricole CIB has been active in Australia since the early 1980s – largely providing a range of financial products and services with particular expertise in the infrastructure, real estate and energy sectors – it has now been granted licence to operate as a foreign bank (effective from 4 January 2022).
According to the bank, the licence forms part of the group's ambition to develop a "global client-centric business model, drawing on its extensive product offerings and core strengths notably in financing and investors solutions".
The new set-up of Crédit Agricole CIB Australia will help provide a platform for future growth of its Australian client base – primarily local financial institutions and large corporates – and enable the bank to deliver "more comprehensive services to clients".
It will also expand its client offerings to include corporate lending, investors solutions expertise (including capital markets, investments, funding to risk management), while aiming to grow its local franchise by developing onshore capabilities that will help support its clients in the telecom, health and renewables sectors.
The bank said it would also be able to facilitate cross-border business by connecting foreign offices of its Australian clients to its offshore teams. It suggested this would be particularly useful in providing global multinational corporates (for example those in Japan and Singapore) that are active in Australia with banking services for their Australian operations.
It also stated that it had been witnessing increasing M&A activities in Australia and therefore believed its relevant expertise would be a "great asset" to its clients, "especially the superannuation funds in Australia who have been actively seeking to acquire overseas assets".
Crédit Agricole CIB added that it would also continue its green strategy by supporting socially and environmentally responsible financing in Australia, including green bonds.
Michel Roy, senior regional officer for Asia-Pacific, commented: “Australia has been key to Crédit Agricole CIB’s growth strategy for Asia-Pacific, which the bank has identified as the first growth driver globally.
"The new set-up not only reinforces our longstanding commitment to the Australian market, but also demonstrates our confidence in our regional growth strategy."
Don Parsonage, senior country officer for Australia, added: “We are very pleased with the Australian regulators’ decision to allow us to operate locally as a licensed bank.
"With the enhanced relevance as a banking partner to our clients in Australia, we are strongly positioned to further strengthen our existing client relationship by fully delivering on their evolving needs."
He added that Crédit Agricole CIB has plans to make new hires in order to support the operation under the new set-up.
"To complement our existing focus on structured finance activity, we will be focusing on developing our capital markets and client coverage capability," he continued.
"It goes without saying that the bank also serves as the platform for the international clients to invest in Australian firms.”
The bank is the second foreign ADI to receive a banking licence from APRA in recent weeks, after Barclays Bank PLC – one of the UK’s largest banks – was given licence to operate in Australia and is expecting to open a Sydney branch in April 2022.