Absa to take over Barclays Zim

Godfrey Marawanyika

SOUTH African banking giant, Amalgamated Bank of South Africa (Absa) is set to take over the operations of Barclays Zimbabwe alongside other Barclays plc operations outside South Africa,

although the deal is still subject to shareholder approval.


This follows comments by Barclays plc that it plans to sell its African operations outside South Africa to Absa.


Absa has operations in five African countries outside South Africa.

Errol Smith, Absa’s media relations manager, yesterday confirmed to businessdigest that his group would eventually take over the operations of Barclays Zimbabwe.


“The transaction will take a number of years, the integration process will take a bit of time,” Smith said.


“What was agreed is that Absa would take over all Barclays operations outside South Africa with the exception of those in Egypt because they fall under a different structure.”


The Barclays plc board this week said it supported the vision of creating a pre-eminent bank on the African continent and agreed in principle, as “soon as reasonably possible after the completion of the recommended acquisition, to integrate Barclays sub-Saharan Africa businesses with Absa”.


Absa was formed when Allied, United and Volkskas banks merged in 1991 and was joined by Bankorp — including Trust Bank and Bankfin — in 1992 to form Amalgamated Banks of South Africa.


Barclays said the terms of integrating sub-Saharan business with Absa had not been agreed yet, adding that its business would not be affected unless, and until, an agreement was reached between the parties.


“There is no change to Barclays businesses’ legal and regulatory status,” the group said.


“Any transaction would be on an arm’s length basis. They would also, where required, be supported by an independent fairness option and will be subject to any necessary regulatory, independent shareholder, (ie excluding Barclays) and board approvals.”


Absa recently acquired a 50% stake in Angola’s Banco Commercial Angolano.


The group is understood to be in talks to acquire a controlling stake in newly-merged banks in Nigeria, and is interested in buying a stake in the Zambia National Commercial Bank, which has been placed onto the market by the Privatisation Agency of Zambia.


If Absa’s deal is successful, it is set to be a major rival of Standard Chartered Bank on the continent.


Currently, Standard has operations in 17 countries. Absa has also said that it intends to purchase a bank on the continent over the next 18 months.


Besides Africa, Absa has international operations in London, Germany, Hong Kong and Singapore, which may be integrated into Barclays.


The Jewel Bank of Zimbabwe this week said the Barclays/Absa deal would not have an immediate effect on them. On Monday Barclays plc agreed to part with £2,9 billion to acquire a 60% controlling stake in Absa which is the largest shareholder in Jewel Bank, with a 25,75% stake.

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