Absa group financial director David Hodnett. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
Absa group financial director David Hodnett. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

BARCLAYS Africa said there is no lack of interest from buyers seeking a stake in SA’s third-largest lender as Barclays prepares to reduce its 62.3% holding to less than 20%.

The London-based bank’s interest would not be "sold in the short term and a number of players will have a say in the process", Barclays Africa deputy CEO David Hodnett said on Wednesday.

It was too soon to speculate on how the British bank would sell its shares, he said, adding that regulators would be looking for investors who offered "long-term stability".

Barclays said on March 1 it planned to sell down its interest in the lender formerly known as Absa over the next two to three years to reduce demands on the capital it needed to set aside for controlling the company.

The company is moving more assets into its noncore unit and cutting the dividend for two years in an effort to shrink the bank and boost capital ratios.

Bob Diamond, the former CEO of Barclays, had not directly approached the African lender on buying shares in the company, Mr Hodnett said.

Further expansion

While the two companies would still operate an investment-banking joint venture, the African unit’s work with multinational corporations and its cash-equities business could be affected by the parent’s withdrawal, he said.

The investment bank still had room to grow and Barclays Africa wanted to expand further in Nigeria, while searching for insurance assets in Ghana as part of its plan to become one of the biggest pan-African banks, Mr Hodnett said.

The British bank bought the South African business in 2005 and in 2013 the Johannesburg-based unit acquired its parent’s operations in eight African countries. This gave Barclays Africa a presence in 12 countries on the continent and it now has more than 12-million customers.

Barclays Africa was down 0.9% at R139.65 as of 2.11pm on the JSE, paring earlier losses of as much as 1.9%. The seven-member banks index declined 2.3%.

Bloomberg