The journey has been a dozen years in the making but Thursday brought confirmation that Barclays in Africa would be re-branded as Absa following shareholder and regulatory approval.
The official statement from Barclays Africa on the change notes that:
- A priority for Barclays Africa is to restore leading positions in core business areas, while expanding into new markets, enabling the group to deliver double-digit growth.
- The Group will expand its corporate and investment banking unit to certain international jurisdictions, with offices set to open in London and later in New York, trading as Absa Securities, and offering opportunities for our clients to financial markets offshore, and providing access to corporates and institutions seeking to invest in Africa.
Barclays is in twelve countries in Africa, including Ghana, Uganda, Zambia and Kenya and the re-brand is expected to be phased gradually.
Almost a year after Barclays Africa announced a decision by (parent) Barclays PLC to exit Africa, they released their Barclays 2016 results (PDF). While the world is now a different one after BREXIT and President Donald Trump, the exit plans are still on course.
Excerpts of the some statements released on Thursday
- Revenue from (the rest of) Africa) has been growing at about 16% a year, compared to 5% in South Africa, but, the rest of Africa (excluding SA) is still just 23% of revenue for Barclays Africa. They expect that rest of Africa growth should exceed South Africa’s
- They have agreed with Barclays PLC on terms of the “separation payments and transitional services – Barclays PLC will contribute £765m, comprising of £515m in recognition of the investment required in technology, rebranding and other separation projects, £55 million to cover separation related expenses, £195 million to terminate the existing service level agreement relating to the rest of Africa operations”.
- Barclays PLC will contribute an amount equivalent to 1.5% of Barclays Africa market capitalization towards a black economic empowerment (BEEP) scheme and Barclays plans to create an equity plan for employees in the next 12 to 18 months.
- They will continue to use the ‘Barclays’ brand in the rest of Africa for three years from the date on which Barclays PLC reduces its shareholding in BAGL to below 50%.
- During 2016, Barclays PLC reduced its shareholding from 62.3% to 50.1%. Other shareholders include Public Investment Corporation (SA) 6.86%, Old Mutual Asset Managers 3.31%, Allan Gray Investment Council 2.16%, Prudential Portfolio Managers 2.01%, Schroders Plc 1.93%, BlackRock 1.69%, Vanguard Group 1.66%, Dimensional Fund Advisors 1.65%, and Sanlam Investment Management (SA) 1.62%.
June 1 2017 update
- Barclays Africa Group Limited today announced that following the completion of South Africa’s largest bookbuild in South African Rands, Barclays PLC has sold 33.7% of Barclays Africa’s issued share capital at a price of R132 per share.
- This results in accounting deconsolidation of Barclays Africa from Barclays PLC.
- Barclays PLC sold 285,691,979 Barclays Africa ordinary shares at a price of R132 per share, which results in Barclays PLC reducing its shareholding to 23.4%, with a further 7% to be taken up by the Public Investment Corporation at a later date, following receipt of the necessary regulatory approvals.
- The significance of this sell-down is that Barclays PLC is no longer the controlling shareholder of Barclays Africa, which now has a diverse shareholder portfolio made up of very supportive, long-term, institutional and individual investors.
- Ownership of Barclays and Absa operations in Africa does not change as a result of the reduction in shareholding. The 11 banks that form part of Barclays Africa will continue to be led and operated by people with deep local knowledge and a diversity of skills and experience.
£1 is $1.25, £1 = KES 128.5, and £1 = 16.1 ZAR.
What’s different about banking in South Africa? Absa is now apart of Barclays and I visited a branch to compare some major differences.
One significant difference between Kenya and South Africa banking is their (SA)recognition that banking is a necessary service which should be affordable. While Barclays is considered to be one of the more expensive banks to use in Kenya, Absa along with the other major SA banks have embraced mzansi which is a voluntary industry effort (financial services transfer charter) to offer accounts for the unbanked, poor, or low-income citizens. Kenya has an unregulated banking sector in which the only option for many such citizens is to seek a cheaper bank such as Co-operative or Equity banks.
Some uniquely Absa services unseen in Barclays Kenya include;
– Izokuphilisa or Absa micro-loans of up to 8500 rand (about 85,000 shillings).
– Mzansi money transfers though which anyone (even non-Absa customers) can use Absa to transfer up to 25,000 rand (250,000) shillings per month to anyone else
– Funeral savings plans
– Full Shari’ah banking including vehicle & asset financing as well as Absa Islamic will writing. (Barclays and KCB have both introduced Islamic banking in Kenya in the last year)
– SA banks sell insurance, something CFC and CBA would love to be able to do at their branches in order to maximise returns on their investments in the insurance industry. A sample Absa insurance plan guarantees additional payment of 50% if death occurs while one is a fare paying passenger on licensed public transport (i.e. matatu) . AIDS is also not a hindrance to obtaining an insurance policy.
– Absa internet access (AIA) for online account users and provides unlimited internet use at a monthly fee
– They have multilingual brochures – typical ½ brochure in English and the back half in Zulu, Afrikaans, or any of the other 11 official languages depending on the region of the country where the branch is located. In Kenya, it’s rare to find brochures in any language other than English.
– On the other hand, it is difficult to exchange foreign currency. Kenya has freed up exchange regulations allowing seamless transfers at forex bureaus and banks while in SA it requires one to show an ID (or passport) and answer a few questions.
– Security is less visible since there are no guards in the bank branches.