Barclays ready to sell 16% of its Africa unit
BARCAYS is weighing selling a 16 percent stake in its Africa unit on the market once it gets regulatory approval to separate from the business, according to people with knowledge of the plans.
The sale could raise as much as $1.5 billion (R20bn) based on the current share price of Barclays Africa Group, said the people, who asked not to be named because the matter is confidential. The stock will probably be sold via an accelerated book build offering, they said. Barclays could decide to amend the size of the sale after receiving the go-ahead, the people said.
Shares in Barclays Africa reversed an earlier gain to fall 1.1 percent to the lowest level in more than three weeks on Friday, the biggest decline in the six-member FTSE/JSE Africa Banks Index. Barclays ended 0.3 percent lower in London, after sliding as much as 0.9 percent during the day. The British bank has dropped 7.9 percent this year.
Barclays is seeking to sell down its remaining 50.1 percent stake in its African business to less than 20 percent in order to deconsolidate the unit from its accounts, releasing capital that can be invested elsewhere in the business. Chief executive Jes Staley, 60, decided to reduce the lender’s presence on the continent in favour of supporting a trimmeddown investment bank focused on London and New York.
The latest phase of the selldown was delayed after South African President Jacob Zuma on March 31 fired Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who had given provisional approval on a separation agreement that involves the UK lender paying its subsidiary £765 million (R13.13bn), and replaced him with Malusi Gigaba. The bank does not know when Gigaba will formally sign-off on the transitional arrangement, one of the people said.
“This story is speculative and wrong,” a spokesperson for Barclays said. Barclays on February 23 said it had applied for permission for its stake to drop below 50 percent from South African bank regulators and the finance ministry.
The sale was also complicated after two rating agencies cut the country’s credit rating to junk in April, causing local bank stocks to plummet, the people said. Johannesburg-based Barclays Africa fell to its lowest level since July 2016 in the week after Gordhan was fired and has a market value of R122bn.
A year ago, Barclays raised $879m when it disposed of a 12.2 percent chunk at a discount of about 11 percent to the average share price over the prior 30 days, according to data. About 40 percent went to local investors including The Public Investment Corporation.
Deconsolidating Africa will boost Barclays’s common equity Tier 1 ratio, the key measure of capital strength, by at least 0.75 percentage point from its 12.5 percent level at the end of March, the bank estimates. The company took a £884m writedown on the division in the first quarter. – Bloomberg L.P.