CEO of Barclays Jes Stanley. Picture: BLOOMBERG
CEO of Barclays Jes Stanley. Picture: BLOOMBERG

LONDON-based Barclays has decided to sell its Africa operations, which includes SA’s Absa Group, the Financial Times said on Friday.

The sale forms part of Barclays’ plans to focus on US and UK markets and is expected to be announced on Tuesday.

The FT reported that the Barclays board decided last week to exit Africa after a review led by new CEO Jes Staley.

A subcommittee was asked to look into how and when Barclays Africa would be sold, the FT said.

Barclays Africa said on Saturday the reports were "still speculation at the moment" as there had been no announcement by Barclays.

Barclays owns 62.3% of Barclays Africa, a stake valued at about R76.5bn based on a market capitalisation of R122.8bn on Friday.

SA’s Public Investment Corporation (PIC), which manages about R1.5-trillion in assets on behalf of the Government Employees Pension Fund, told Business Day last month it was keen to increase its stake in Barclays Africa if the group’s parent in London sells down.

A sell-down is seen as an opportunity for domestic investors to reclaim the banking asset from British control.

The PIC is the biggest South African investor in Barclays Africa, with a 5.44% stake — valued at about R5bn at current market prices.

The talk of a sell-down comes less than three years after Barclays increased its stake in Barclays Africa Group to 62.3% from 55% in an R18bn deal. In that transaction, Absa bought eight of Barclays’s African operations to form the Barclays Africa Group.

Barclays had initially acquired its 55% stake in Absa Group in 2005 for $5.5bn, an equivalent of about R30bn more than 10 years ago.

Outside SA, Barclays Africa now has a presence in Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Botswana.

Barclays also owns operations in Egypt and Zimbabwe.

An attempt to sell the operations in these two countries to the Johannesburg headquartered Barclays Africa failed last year.