JOHANNESBURG—Africa's largest bank will choose between two firms as it concludes a review of its public relations activity across the continent, worth as much as $2m per year.

South Africa's Standard Bank has shortlisted the duo in the final phase of a pitch process that began two months ago. One of the contenders is Magna Carta, the incumbent agency that has handled the business in South Africa and across the continent for more than a decade without a competitive review. 

The Omnicom firm will vie with FTI Consulting, which oversees Standard Bank's PR mandate in London. Magna Carta and FTI are expected to present to Standard Bank's executive board before a final decision is made. 

As one of the continent's largest PR accounts. the process has attracted significant interest from South Africa's PR agencies. The mandate, which covers 17 markets and South Africa, is a broad one, ranging from high-level strategic counsel and issues management to retail and consumer activation. 

In particular, according to a Standard Bank spokesperson, the company is "looking for an innovative and creative agency that is able to build and strengthen Standard Bank’s reputation and brand across its Africa operations."

"Given the changing and challenging banking environment, both locally and internationally, Standard Bank wants to ensure that it has the best possible public relations agency managing its account," added the spokersperson. "Standard Bank also wants to give other PR relations agencies an opportunity to tender for its business, which encompasses South Africa and coordination of PR across 17 other African countries."

The largest African bank by assets and earnings, Standard Bank is now present in 18 African countries, after beginning life in 1862. The company is currently in talks to sell its London-based commodity trading business to china's ICBC, which already owns 20 percent of the South African bank.