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Barclays considering Africa exit

Barclays Bank PLC is mulling to pull out of Africa after a century in the continent, according a report by Wall Street Journal. The lender is planning to dispose its 62 percent stake in the JSE-listed Barclays Africa Group Ltd in what WSJ says is part of new chief executive, Jes Staley, plan to redirect the bank’s efforts to more profitable divisions.

Barclays Africa Group Ltd has over 40,000 staff spread in 12 countries including Kenya, Uganda, Seychelles, Mauritius, Zambia, South Africa and Botswana. Barclays South Africa, with over 9 million customers, contributes the lion’s share of revenue to the group followed by Kenya and Tanzania.

The group was formed after Barclays African operations merged with the Absa Group in 2013. However, Barclays Bank Kenya and Barclays Bank Botswana are listed in their respective stock exchanges.  It is understood Barclays will sell its retail banking operations but maintain it’s corporate and investment banking activities.

The exit reports emerge as Barclays Africa Group is pushing forward with the ‘One Bank in Africa’ growth strategy which saw the group deliver Sh360B in revenues in 2015, a 6 percent rise from 2014.

“Our strategy is based on the strength of our franchise – an African bank that is fully international, fully regional and fully local. These results demonstrate that we are on track to achieve the commitments we made. I remain excited by the potential for our business on our continent,” said Maria Ramos, Chief Executive Officer, BAGL, in a statement included in the financial results ending June 2015.

Although an official position by Barclays is yet to be released, the Financial Times says Staley is expected to present his plans to investors in March 1. Financial analysts, who spoke to FT, said if the plans gain steam, the Bank might sell its stake to existing shareholders or to local rivals with continental footprint.

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