Barclays bank will next week announce the sale of its African business, Absa, according to a report in the Financial Times.
The group currently holds a 62.3% stake in the African group which serves as its foothold onto the continent. Citing people familiar with the matter, FT reported that the group nolonger sees Barclays Africa – known locally as Absa – as core to its strategy.
The Wall Street Journal, first reported that Barclays aimed to sell in Africa. Absa, the paper said, has struggled in recent years, while the weaker rand is also a point for concern, as is the state of the local economy.
“Barclays does not own all of the equity, but it owns 100% of the risk if something goes wrong,” FT cited a source as saying.
Barclay’s stake is worth R78 billion (£3.5 billion) at current market prices. Investment bankers say there are no obvious strategic buyers at this stage, the FT said.
“While we expect the process of selling Barclays Africa Group to prove more difficult than the market currently expects . . . a wholesale exit from Africa would seem to make sense,” Joseph Dickerson, banks analyst at Jefferies, said in a note.
Absa is one of the largest banks in Africa with 45,000 employees and 1,267 branches across 12 countries, including Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Uganda.
State-owned investment group, the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) said in January that it would be keen to increase its stake in Barclays Africa, should Barclays sell off some of its holdings.
According to a report from BDLive, PIC CEO Daniel Matjila expressed interest in a such a deal speaking to the publication at Davos.
He said it would be “an opportunity to reclaim what we sold”, and that the PIC “would be keen to participate” in a deal if it was put on the table.
In January, the ANC Youth League blamed Absa for the rand weakness, saying that Barclays itself is behind the crash.
The political group said that Barclays has been “excessively and aggressively” selling the local currency for the past few months.
They accused the finance house of ditching South Africa in favour of boosting the economies of their home countries.