Shares dip as Bar­clays Africa branch tar­geted

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - Re­nee Bonorchis

BAR­CLAYS Africa was tar­geted by protesters who en­tered one of its branches yes­ter­day and de­manded the bank pay back money from a bailout pro­vided to a com­pany it bought be­fore the end of apartheid.

Demon­stra­tors linked to the ANC Youth League gath­ered out­side the branch in Dur­ban, said in an e-mailed re­sponse to ques­tions.

Po­lice en­sured cus­tomers and staff were pro­tected dur­ing the in­ci­dent.

The protests come af­ter the leak­ing of a draft re­port com­piled by South Africa’s graft om­buds­man that said Bar­clays Africa, which traded as Absa then, may have un­duly ben­e­fited from state sup­port when it bought Bankorp in 1992.

A panel ap­pointed by for­mer Re­serve Bank gov­er­nor Tito Mboweni found in 2002 that Absa’s share­hold­ers didn’t de­rive un­due ben­e­fit from the cen­tral bank’s in­ter­ven­tion and said resti­tu­tion shouldn’t be pur­sued.

“Our stance re­mains that Absa doesn’t owe the gov­ern­ment money,” the bank said.

“We set­tled our obli­ga­tions in 1995 and the pub­lic pro­tec­tor’s draft re­port con­tains le­gal and fac­tual in­ac­cu­ra­cies.”

Bar­clays Africa re­versed ear­lier gains to trade 0.81% lower at R163.73 at the close in Joburg. The stock has de­clined 3% this year, the big­gest drop in the six-mem­ber FTSE/JSE Africa Banks In­dex.

The ANCYL bused in hun­dreds of sup­port­ers from around KwaZulu-Natal to join the protest out­side the branch in cen­tral Dur­ban as part of a na­tional call for action against Absa, News24 re­ported.

Some gained ac­cess to the branch, while oth­ers danced and sang in the street in yel­low T-shirts with Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s face on.

Bar­clays Africa ac­cepted a mem­o­ran­dum from the protesters, with the sit­u­a­tion now un­der con­trol, it said.

Zuma has ques­tioned why South Africa’s largest banks de­cided to shut the ac­counts of com­pa­nies re­lated to the Gupta fam­ily, who have been ac­cused of us­ing their friend­ship with the pres­i­dent and their busi­ness ties with one of his sons to in­flu­ence cabinet ap­point­ments.

Zuma and the Gup­tas deny any wrong­do­ing. The lenders have said they never acted in con­cert, and in sep­a­rate state­ments have said that con­tin­u­ing to do busi­ness with the Gup­tas risked hurt­ing their rep­u­ta­tions. – Bloomberg

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