Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

BARCLAYS Africa Group is looking to buy the automated teller machine (ATM) business of Bytes Technology Group in a deal classified by the Competition Commission as a "large transaction".

This could be the third large acquisition that the banking group, under the stewardship of CE Maria Ramos, has made in two years. Under Ms Ramos, Barclays has spent about R28bn on acquisitions.

The value of the Bytes deal remains undisclosed. On Tuesday, the bank declined to comment on the transaction.

The proposed transaction was filed with the competition authorities last month and is considered a "large" deal in terms of size.

The commission considers a merger "large" if the combined turnover or assets of both the acquiring and target firms are valued at R6.6bn or more, and the turnover or asset value of the target is at least R190m.

Altron, the holding company of Bytes Technology Group SA, said in its recent annual report that Bytes Document Solutions UK, and the firm’s retail ATM base and operations, were being "held for sale".

Barclays Africa and Bytes have a long-standing relationship and a successful acquisition of the technology firm could see the bank overhaul its entire ATM network internally and cost-effectively.

Barclays Africa wants to enhance its self-service banking through ATMs to encourage clients not to use branches so that it can save on costs. Last year, Barclays Africa awarded Bytes Managed Solutions a R400m, three-year contract for support services in Africa.

Bytes Technology is a subsidiary of Altron TMT. Asked if Bytes Technology was for sale, Altron TMT CE Craig Venter said only parts of the group were for sale. "Bytes is a group of companies. Within this group of companies we are always looking at which businesses are core and which are not."

Asked to comment on Barclays Africa buying the ATM business, Mr Venter said: "We can only make an announcement if a deal has been transacted."

Last month, Bytes SA bought 27% of its issued share capital for R669m from a black economic empowerment consortium led by Kagiso Strategic Investments.

An analyst said Barclays Africa was likely looking to buy the Bytes retail ATM business as it had managed the bank’s ATM network. "They have a network of business. They would have managed that on their behalf … it would now be managed internally," he said.