Shares dip as Barclays Africa branch targeted
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