Subject to regulatory and shareholders’ approval in an upcoming AGM scheduled for March 2018, Barclays Africa Group Limited will rename to Absa Group Limited. This will see all of Barclay’s operations in the 10 African countries it operates in, trade under the Absa brand (although likely not to happen immediately).
“The sell-down gave us the opportunity to roll out a brand that reflects our identity in Africa and to unite our operations in 10 countries behind one name,” Ramos said. “We will be Absa, not as you know it, but relaunched, represented and with an identity fit for the new and forward-looking business we are creating,” said Barclays Africa Group CEO Maria Ramos.
By December 2017, London-based Barclays PLC- the group’s majority shareholder had reduced its ownership of Barclays Africa Limited to slightly over a tenth. This necessitated the name change to Absa, as the bank could no longer trade under the Barclays brand-which was now a minority shareholder.
Absa is one of the largest banks in South Africa and the brand under which Barclays Africa Group currently operates in South Africa.
Such a name change is a delicate process, especially considering that the Barclays brand has been in some countries (South Africa) for up to 100 years. “If people’s experience about us is bad, they dump us and talk bad about us. If we deliver on the things we say we want to deliver, we will have the opportunities, says Peter Matlare, Barclays Africa Group’s Deputy CEO.
Barclays PLC CEO Jes Staley, states one of the reasons for wanting change is that although Barclays owns 62 percent of the assets in its African business, it shoulders 100 percent of the liabilities. Additionally, the devaluation of the South African rand against the British pound has not helped in making investment less attractive.
However, Barclay’s pullout from Africa isn’t isolated, the bank is also pulling out of other emerging markets such as Asia, Russia and Brazil. Barclays is instead choosing to solidify its position in its main British and American markets.