Barbican goes for niche banking


Ngoni Chanakira

BARBICAN Bank Ltd (Barbican) chief executive officer Mthuli Ncube says his bank is not meant for small-scale players in the financial services sector, but only individual

s and corporates who can maintain healthy monthly bank balances.


The bank’s minimum balance for personal savings accounts is $200 000 and $500 000 for corporates, while its minimum-lending rate currently stands at 95%.


A subsidiary of the diversified Barbican Holdings Ltd group, Barbican Bank was opened in July but was officially launched on Tuesday night.


In an interview Ncube said the institution would also not follow in the footsteps of other indigenous banks by embarking on huge roll-out programmes, but, instead, would have very few branches with the “highest quality service deserving of wealthy individuals”.


“Why should we spend about $500 million opening each branch when this can be done by a few (bran-ches) but offering exclusive services?”


The flamboyant tycoon scoffed at the idea of offering services to the mass market saying there were already sufficient players in that sector.


He said he was considering a situation whereby the bank had a maximum of about five branches – in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Gweru and probably Victoria Falls.


“What is very encouraging is that we have already made a profit in our first month of operation,” he said. “We expect to produce handsome results for our six months period, adding to our already healthy figures.”


Going forward Ncube told businessdigest that the Barbican group plans to demerge its private equity investments, whose value was not fully reflected in the listed holding company.


Company chairman Phineas Makhurane said he believed the demerger of these assets, which would take place in the next eight months, would unlock “hidden value for shareholders”.


Barbican listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange after a reverse take-over of the Bulawayo family-based retailer Haddon & Sly Ltd (Haddons).

Ncube caught the financial services sector off-guard when he snapped up Haddons.


In its maiden results for the six months ended June 30 Barbican achieved an operating profit before tax of $750,3 million compared to $82,5 million for the same period to June 2002, in historical terms a growth of 809%.


The earnings per share grew by 847%, from 48,59 cents for the six months ended June 2002 to 460,07 cents for the six months ended June.


The company’s balance sheet has grown substantially during the last six months from total assets of $9,6 billion in December 2002 to $20,3 billion in June this year.


Most of the growth was derived from growth in investments.


Ncube is synonymous with hostile take-over bids, having recently caused more waves in the financial world when he bid for a 40% stake in the wealthy Zimbabwe Platinum Mines Ltd (Zimplats).

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