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Barclays to change name

Ngoni Chanakira

BARCLAYS Holdings Zimbabwe Ltd is changing its name to Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe Ltd after a capital restructuring programme that saw it offload some of its staff, branches and divisions.

At $73 billion, Barclays is the country’s most heavily capitalised financial counter on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) followed closely by the Zimbabwe Financial Holdings Ltd at $55 billion.

There have been several management changes at Barclays with Charity Jinya replacing Alex Jongwe as boss.

Jongwe has retired.

The changes also saw prominent banker and former Barclays managing director Isaac Takawira bounce back as deputy chairman of the reconstituted board led by Robbie Mupawose.

Barclays shares have been swaying between $49 and $55 on the bourse which is currently at the top end of the share price for financial institutions.

Last year however shareholders scolded management about the changes at the institution, saying it was affecting the share price which was “static”.

This week Barclays company secretary Tamera Moyana said a special resolution was being called for following the abandonment of the capital restructuring programme approved in November 2000 changing the name from Barclays Holdings Zimbabwe Ltd to Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe Ltd.

The transaction would be discussed at the company’s 23rd annual general meeting in Harare on April 28.

The meeting would also officially recognise Jinya and Takawira in their new elevated positions on the board.

Zimbabwe’s poor macroeconomic fundamentals caused Barclays to downscale operations and send hundreds of employees packing.

Workers were given packages using a voluntary retrenchment scheme for staff.

Chairman Mupawose told shareholders on December 31 2002 that if the lopsided economic situation did not improve his financial institution would be left with no alternative but to downscale its Zimbabwe operations.

Mupawose said Barclays would concentrate on projects with a low foreign currency content and also consider withdrawing its local credit cards, which were being abused.

The decision to downscale operations came hard on the heels of another financial institution’s decision to also send workers home because of the huge costs of operating in Zimbabwe.

Standard Chartered Bank of Zimbabwe Ltd has also been slowly closing down its branches and offloading them to indigenous players who have entered the financial services sector.

Branches have been sold by Barclays and Stanchart to Royal and Century Banks Ltd – new indigenous financial institutions.

Former Barclays managing director Jongwe last year surprised employees when he told them that the bank was “reviewing their business with the objective of matching operational requirements to customer needs”.

Barclays, which has operated in Zimbabwe since 1912, said it was engaged in a series of measures which included scaling down the branch network and restructuring head office support divisions.

“A significant number of staff positions will, therefore, fall away and the implications of this have been the subject of discussions with staff and their representative union body,”Jongwe said.

“These have now been concluded and full agreement reached on a voluntary retrenchment scheme for staff.”

He said negotiations were at an advanced stage with Royal Bank of Zimbabwe and Century Bank Ltd to take ownership of district branches.

“Barclays has been particularly mindful of the effects of this change on customers, staff and other key stakeholders during this review of its operations and market position,” Jongwe said then.

Mupawose said as a result of the Banking Act’s provisions which then permitted commercial banks to engage directly in leasing business, Barclays’ leasing subsidiary, Fincor Finance Corporation Ltd, would become a division of the bank.

“This will add value to the Bank by reducing operating costs and eliminating roles which were of necessity duplicated by its position as a subsidiary company,” Mupawose said.

“The brand name will be retained to maximise customer loyalty. The affordable asset financing facilities, for which Fincor is well known, will continue to be offered.”

Mupawose said unless the country’s economic situation improved the bank would be forced to discontinue its local credit card system but would offer customers an alternative card product.

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