Barclays unveils final plan to combine African banking units

Tim Wallace
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BARCLAYS yesterday announced African bank Absa is taking over its banking operations in the continent, while the British bank is increasing its majority shareholding in Absa.

The consolidation is worth 18.33bn rand (£1.3bn) in shares and increases Barclays’ stake in the bank from 55.5 per cent to 62.3 per cent.

The combined firm will be listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, and will have 14.4m customers and more than 1,300 outlets, while employing 43,000 staff. It is understood Barclays intends the group’s local and regional brand names to be unchanged, while operations will be more closely coordinated internally.

But despite aiming to make operational savings, the bank has pledged not to cut headcount, instead arguing the operations’ diverse geographic spread means it will be well placed to expand, a goal which will be harmed by trying to cut staff.

The deal is expected to take place in early 2013, but first needs regulatory approval.

That could take time as the bank operates in 10 African countries, including Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Uganda, while Absa – Africa’s third-largest bank by value – is based in South Africa.