Cape Town – By linking 12 banks together across the continent in 2013, Barclays Africa Group [JSE:BGA] put the future of the bank “firmly in our own hands”, CEO Maria Ramos said on Monday ahead of Barclays Group’s possible exit from the division.
Ramos, a former Treasury and Transnet leader, has built up the division that includes Absa across Africa to reach 12 million customers.
She was reacting to reports in the Financial Times that Barclays CEO Jes Staley is planning to announce on Tuesday that the “British bank has decided to exit its African operations in a bold move to refocus the bank on its core UK and US markets”.
Barclays Africa was trading 2% lower at R144.83 on Monday at 08:10.
READ: CEO Jes Staley appears set to redistribute capital from the African business
“We continue to be optimistic about our prospects in Africa, where we have a strong franchise with assets of over R1trn,” she said. “We are deeply committed to the success of our continent. Our destiny is in Africa.”
Barclays Africa tweeted that its board is evaluating its strategic options in relation to its Barclays Africa Group Limited (BAGL) shareholding. “We expect to update the market on 1 March,” it said.
In a statement released on Monday, Barclays Africa said it remains committed to Africa, where it continues to be optimistic about growth prospects and expects to operate in the normal course of business.
“UK-based Barclays PLC, which owns 62.3% of Barclays Africa, yesterday said it continues to evaluate its strategic options in relation to its shareholding in Barclays Africa Group Limited and expects to update the market at the time of its 2015 full-year results announcement on 1 March,” it said.
BizNews publisher Alec Hogg said Barclays is poised to lose around £400m of the £3.8bn capital it invested over the past decade into South Africa’s leading retail bank Absa.
"Just over a decade ago, in May 2005, Barclays invested £2.6bn to acquire 56.4% of the Absa Group," he said. "This shareholding was raised to 62.3% in July 2013 when it accepted Absa shares in return for injecting £1.2bn worth of other African banking assets into the SA group, which was then renamed Barclays Africa."
FULL STORY: Falling rand means Barclays to lose £400m on decade-long Absa investment
"Barclays Africa is an independently-listed entity on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), regulated by the South African Reserve Bank and we are well capitalised with a track record of strong returns," said Ramos.
“We continue to offer a full and integrated range of products and services to more than 12 million customers in 12 countries across Africa and our customers can be just as confident doing business with us today as they have always been,” added Ramos.
“With an independent board and a separate listing on the JSE, we are deeply rooted in Africa and remain firmly in control of our future.”
In 2013, Barclays Africa was established as a leading African bank when 12 banks across the continent were brought together.
“In doing so, we put the future of this organisation firmly in our own hands,” said Ramos.
BAGL is the majority (in some cases sole) shareholder of the operations in South Africa, Kenya, Botswana, Ghana, Zambia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Uganda and Tanzania (Barclays Bank Tanzania Limited and National Bank of Commerce Limited).
“Any announcement relating to Barclays PLC’s shareholding in BAGL does not impact the shareholding and ownership of these operations,” the group said.
Barclays PLC and Barclays Africa Group Limited will announce their 2015 financial results on Tuesday.