Barclays Africa remains committed to Africa. CEO optimistic on growth prospects.

JOHANNESBURG, Feb 29 (Reuters) – Barclays Africa Group Ltd said on Monday that any announcement by its London-listed parent company Barclays Plc would not impact the shareholding and ownership of operations in individual African countries.

Barclays Plc said on Sunday its board was evaluating strategic options in relation to its shareholding in its African business. The bank will update the market on its plans for Barclays Africa on Tuesday, it said.

Barclays Africa shares fell as much as 6 percent as markets opened and traded 4.8 percent lower at 137.90 rand by 0750 GMT. The banking index was down 2.8 percent.

Barclays Africa said it was well capitalised, that it had an independent board and that it would continue to operate as normal.

That comes after a report by the Financial Times on Friday that the bank’s chief executive, Jess Staley, had decided to shut operations in Africa and had appointed a subcommittee to study the sale process.

Under a deal concluded three years ago, Barclays handed over ownership of eight African businesses to its South African subsidiary in exchange for a 62.3 percent stake in the new Barclays Africa entity.

Fund manager Korner Perspective director Graeme Korner said there was little appetite in the market for a major banking transaction and that finding a new buyer with a good balance sheet was going to be challenging.

“Unless there is a really powerful player that has a deep balance sheet and can add strategic value to Barclays Africa its not in the interest of minority shareholders to see it passed on to somebody else,” he said.

Barclays Africa is the majority and sometimes sole owner of operations in 10 African countries including South Africa and Kenya. Any change in the shareholding of Barclays Africa will not impact the shareholding structure of those individual operations, it said.

“BAGL (Barclays Africa) confirms that any announcement relating to PLC’s shareholding in BAGL does not impact the shareholding and ownership of these operations,” it said.

Barclays Africa’s Kenya unit assured customers that it would not be shutting down and that their accounts were safe.

“I assure you that your money is safe with us and you should not be concerned about the operation of your account,” Managing Director Jeremy Awori said in a statement

Barclays Africa media statement

Barclays Africa Group Limited (BAGL) wishes to reiterate that we remain committed to Africa, where we continue to be optimistic about our growth prospects, and to operate in the normal course of business.

UK-based Barclays PLC, which owns 62.3% of Barclays Africa, yesterday said it continues to evaluate its strategic options in relation to its shareholding in Barclays Africa Group Limited and expects to update the market at the time of its 2015 full-year results announcement on 1 March.

A Barclays logo is pictured outside the Barclays towers in Johannesburg December 16, 2015. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
A Barclays logo is pictured outside the Barclays towers in Johannesburg December 16, 2015. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Barclays Africa is an independently-listed entity on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, regulated by the South African Reserve Bank and we are well capitalised with a track record of strong returns.

Maria Ramos, Barclays Africa Group Chief Executive says: “We continue to offer a full and integrated range of products and services to more than 12 million customers in 12 countries across Africa and our customers can be just as confident doing business with us today as they have always been. With an independent board and a separate listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange we are deeply rooted in Africa and remain firmly in control of our future.”

In 2013, Barclays Africa was established as a leading African bank when 12 banks across the continent were brought together.

Read also: Falling Rand means Barclays to lose £400m on decade-long Absa investment

“In doing so, we put the future of this organisation firmly in our own hands,” Ms Ramos said.

Barclays Africa Group Limited is the majority (in some cases sole) shareholder of the BAGL operations in South Africa, Kenya, Botswana, Ghana, Zambia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Uganda and Tanzania (Barclays Bank Tanzania Limited and National Bank of Commerce Limited). Any announcement relating to Barclays PLC’s shareholding in BAGL does not impact the shareholding and ownership of these operations.

“We continue to be optimistic about our prospects in Africa, where we have a strong franchise with assets of over R1 trillion. We are deeply committed to the success of our continent. Our destiny is in Africa,” Ms Ramos says.

Barclays PLC and Barclays Africa Group Limited will announce their 2015 financial results tomorrow.