Abraaj in­ter­ested in Bar­clays Africa

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS NEWS - Amy Thom­son

ABRAAJ Group, the pri­vate-eq­uity firm that in­vests across emerg­ing mar­kets, was in­ter­ested in Bar­clays Group’s African busi­ness, said Arif Naqvi, the chief ex­ec­u­tive.

“It’s a very fine bank run by a very fine man­age­ment team, and if the op­por­tu­nity were to re-present it­self, we would cer­tainly be one of those that would be at the ta­ble,” Naqvi said in an in­ter­view at the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum yes­ter­day. The two com­pa­nies were not in talks, he said.

Naqvi’s com­ments might sig­nal re­newed in­ter­est in bid­ding for a chunk of Bar­clays’ re­main­ing 50.1 per­cent stake in the unit after the bank said last March that it planned to sell down its 62per­cent stake over two to three years. Abraaj and a group of in­vestors had planned to bid for a mi­nor­ity stake in Bar­clays Africa, sources with knowl­edge of the dis­cus­sions said last year, though those talks later fal­tered.

Other in­vestor groups have also ex­pressed in­ter­est in build­ing a stake in the busi­ness. South Africa’s Pub­lic In­vest­ment Cor­po­ra­tion was look­ing to form a group made up of black share­hold­ers to buy a stake, while ex-Bar­clays’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, Bob Di­a­mond, had also pub­licly ex­pressed in­ter­est in a po­ten­tial ac­qui­si­tion.

The SA Re­serve Bank cau­tioned in­vestors that it wanted own­ers of the coun­try’s banks to have sta­bil­ity, deep pock­ets and long-term plans, say­ing in May it would look neg­a­tively on a pri­vate-eq­uity bid.

Bar­clays sold the first slice of its stake in Bar­clays Africa last May as part of a plan to cut its hold­ing to 20per­cent or less. The bank sold 103.6 mil­lion shares for the equiv­a­lent of about $880 mil­lion (R11.9bn).

Bar­clays Africa dropped 1.64 per­cent on the JSE yes­ter­day to R166.42. – Bloomberg

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