Barclays’ CEO’s visit points to Absa’s centrality to Africa strategy
THE importance of Absa to Barclays’ Africa growth strategy has been emphasised by the first visit last week to South Africa by Antony Jenkins, the CEO of the UK group that controls South Africa’s largest retail bank by customer numbers.
The Africa growth strategy is being implemented under the One Bank in Africa banner to consolidate the efforts of both banks in growing the retail banking franchise in sub-Saharan Africa.
The visit comes hardly weeks after former CE Bob Diamond resigned over the Libor interest rates-fixing scandal, and gave Mr Jenkins the opportunity to meet the Absa board and executives led by CEO Maria Ramos.
Details of issues discussed were not immediately available.
Analysts, however, said he would have used the visit as a relationship-building exercise and to outline his vision of how he wanted to restore Barclays’ soiled reputation, while growing its business and that of its subsidiaries such as Absa.
Absa and Barclays have announced a major asset swap, subject to regulatory approval, that will see Absa taking some of Barclays’ units in Africa and the Indian Ocean under a deal that could result in Barclays increasing its stake in Absa.
"I think he was familiarising himself with the organisation and preparations in getting the Africa strategy sorted out," said Faizal Moolla, a banking analyst at Avior Research, on Monday.
Adrian Cloete, an equity analyst at Cadiz Asset Management, said while much should not be read into Mr Jenkins’ visit, it was possible the planned transfer of Barclays units to a unit in which Barclays would be the majority owner would have been discussed.
"Barclays and Absa issued a cautionary last month to combine some of Barclays’ African operations with Absa so the visit could relate to this announcement as the potential deal is a significant transaction for Absa," said Mr Cloete.
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