Barclays looks to combine all African units

Tim Wallace
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BARCLAYS is considering bringing all of its African operations under one structure by the middle of next year, it said yesterday.

The bank is in talks with South Africa’s third-largest bank Absa about the move, and hopes to streamline operations in the continent.

Barclays bought 55.5 per cent of Absa in 2005, but it is run as a separate entity.

Absa itself already has subsidiaries in Mozambique, Tanzania and Namibia, while Barclays owns banks and runs business units in countries including Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia.

The group has previously extended successful products from one bank to others in the continent, such as Absa’s bank assurance offering, and may look to rationalise its product range across the continent.

“We have already consolidated the regional offices for Absa Africa and Barclays Africa, as well as introduced a global product strategy for banking across the continent,” said Maria Ramos, chief executive of Absa Group and Barclays Africa.

The deal requires approval from the board and shareholders of Absa as well as regulators across Africa, but analysts believe combining the operations could strengthen the bank’s position.

Barclays’ African loan book to grow by an average of nine per cent per year from 2011 to 2015 compared with five per cent for the group, according to estimates from Oriel Securities’ Mike Trippitt.

Although names like “Barclaycard” are used in South Africa it is not thought that established regional and national African brands will be abolished if the plans go ahead.