Bar­clays Africa scal­ing back not linked to eco­nomic woes: CEO

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE -

JO­HAN­NES­BURG: Bar­clays's plan to scale back its Africa op­er­a­tions is linked to global reg­u­la­tory chal­lenges, not un­favourable eco­nomic con­di­tions on the con­ti­nent, the bank's Africa chief ex­ec­u­tive has told me­dia.

"We did not make this de­ci­sion be­cause of the eco­nomic cy­cle," Maria Ramos said in an in­ter­view in Jo­han­nes­burg.

"The reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ment has changed glob­ally and it's more dif­fi­cult for large banks to hold on to sub­sidiaries like ours," she said. The Bri­tish len­der early this month an­nounced that it will sell down its 62.3 per­cent in­ter­est in Bar­clays Africa to just 20 per­cent over the next two to three years, fu­elling spec­u­la­tion over the de­ci­sion.

"We are at the be­gin­ning of that process but since the an­nounce­ment a week ago, there has been a lot of in­ter­est," said Ramos. The len­der said it would now fo­cus on its two core mar­kets, Bri­tain and the US. Bar­clays Africa Group has in­sisted how­ever that it re­mained com­mit­ted to the con­ti­nent, where it has a pres­ence in 12 coun­tries, with as­sets val­ued at $3 bil­lion.

South Africa, the con­ti­nent's most ad­vanced econ­omy, is Bar­clays Africa's ma­jor mar­ket.

The bank re-en­tered South Africa in 2005, af­ter it ac­quired a 55.5 per­cent in one of the coun­try's four largest banks, ABSA.

The ac­qui­si­tion marked its re­turn to the mar­ket it left in 1986, at the height of apartheid. The pur­chase was at the time the largest ac­qui­si­tion of a lo­cal bank by a for­eign bank. Ramos was up­beat about the state of the South African econ­omy, which rep­re­sents the ma­jor­ity of rev­enues for Bar­clays Africa.

"South Africa is still a sig­nif­i­cant econ­omy of this con­ti­nent, it's a large econ­omy of this con­ti­nent," she said, shrug­ging off sug­ges­tions that the coun­try's slow eco­nomic growth might have con­trib­uted to the bank's exit. "I re­main ex­ceed­ingly pos­i­tive over the medium to long term. This econ­omy has gone through many many things." "We see enor­mous po­ten­tial on the African con­ti­nent. We have a very strong fran­chise with very good re­sults."

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.