Barclays set to sell Africa business; including Absa – FT

Barclays PLC (BARC.L) Chief Executive Jes Staley has decided to shut the bank’s operations in Africa, the Financial Times said on Friday, citing sources familiar with the matter.
The bank’s board took the decision last week at a review led by Staley and plans to announce the exit on Tuesday, the FT said. 
The board has appointed a subcommittee to study how and when to sell Barclays Africa (BGAJ.J), the FT said.
No comment was immediately available from Barclays.
Staley’s review came after South African President Jacob Zuma decided to change his finance minister twice in less than a week at a time when the economy is under severe stress.
[READ MORE: Why selling Barclays’ Africa operations doesn’t make business sense

Barclays’ African business had 36 billion pounds of assets on a risk-adjusted basis and made a profit of 791 million pounds in the first nine months of this year, or 13 percent of the bank’s core profits.

When the rumours first surfaced in December, CNBC Africa spoke to Kokkie Kooyman, a fund manager at Denker Capital for his views. The fund manager was surprised by the statement, explaining that normally this would be the best time to invest.

“Banks that don’t have investments in Africa should actually now be looking at investing because now is the time where your prices are low, your valuations are low and from here on now things can only get better.”

The fund manager believes Staley’s rational is most likely because of his investment banking background.


“Investment bankers by nature tend to take shorter views, although as a CEO of a giant like Barclays, you should be taking 20-year views,” Kooyman said.

Kooyman added that Africa has “diminished” a lot in terms of growth prospects so he reckons Staley could be revaluating how much capital he wants to commit towards a “low growth continent”.

“And in South Africa, we are suddenly looking at a country which could be growing at zero to one per cent for a few years,” Kooyman said.