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Barclays and Absa to combine African assets for expansion

Barclays PLC and South Africas Absa Group will combine their Africa-based assets to accelerate the expansion of both groups across the African continent

According to a joint statement, the banks were zeroing in on the decision to further combine Absa and Barclays businesses in Africa legally as well as operationally in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and the Indian Ocean.

Barclays has a 55.5 per cent shareholding in Absa and had embarked on a consolidation with the South African bank last year. It had also moved its Africa regional office from Dubai to South Africa.

The proposed combination would not take place before 2013 and will remain dependent on regulatory approvals, the statement said.

Maria Ramos, chief executive of Absa Group and Barclays Africa, said, “This proposed combination of the majority of the Barclays Africa businesses with Absa is the next step in delivering our ‘One Africa’ strategy.”

The move comes at a time when other major banks in South Africa have been placing more focus on the continent.

Last week, Standard Bank Group said it would further reduce its operations outside of Africa and place more emphasis on expanding in key African markets like Nigeria and Angola.

Nedbank Group Ltd formed a partnership with Nigeria’s Ecobank this year, while Rand Merchant Bank has been planning to buy an asset in Kenya.

Barclays and Absa have already consolidated regional offices for Absa Africa and Barclays Africa, and introduced a global product strategy for banking across the continent. If the discussions go through, Barclays said it would help the two banks to roll out Absa’s investment and corporate banking products to more parts of Africa.

A Barclays source said the businesses in scope for the proposed combination would employ more than 8,000 people and have a network of more than 400 branches and 750 ATMs serving approximately 2.2 million customers across Africa. 

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