01 Mar

Barclays Africa Returns to Absa Roots as Lender Revamps Strategy

Barclays Africa Group Ltd. is going back to its roots.

The Johannesburg-based bank plans to revert back to the Absa Group Ltd. name, as it was known before Barclays Plc took control of the company in 2005.

With the British bank’s stake now reduced to 14.9 percent, Barclays Africa is also embarking on a plan to double in size and capture at least 12 percent of banking revenues across the continent.

“We will stretch ourselves to develop the platform for double-digit growth and build momentum to accelerate delivery,” Chief Executive Officer Maria Ramos said on a conference call on Thursday. “

This is a critical period in which we will need to complete our separation from Plc, build and scale new capabilities, and rebuild our organizational and cultural foundations to capture growth.”

The lender, which has operations in 12 African countries, is forging its own path after Barclays Chief Executive Officer Jes Staley opted to reduce the British bank’s presence on the continent in favor of a trimmed-down investment bank focused on London and New York.

With the split on track, Ramos, 59, said she will consider appropriate acquisitions to support the company’s growth plan, explore strategic partnerships and new markets, and use technology so the lender’s operations become fully digitized.

While Barclays Africa hasn’t set timelines for reaching the goals, it will seek to support the new strategy by:

  • Creating a consumer-finance business across Africa to fill a “rapidly growing need,” Ramos said. “We’re going to target this opportunity with our core middle and affluent customers and fully expect to grow our base here.”
  • Building a payments hub. “Payments is a highly profitable area and is growing at 8 percent annually. Our payments hub needs to be simple and intuitive and work on a single platform across the continent. It also needs to be affordable.”

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