Barclays completes exit from Africa after nearly a century

Barclays announced plans to sell Absa in 2016 under then-boss Jes Staley


Barclays completes exit from Africa after nearly a century on the continent with Absa sale raising £538m

  • The British lender bought South Africa-based Absa in 2005 
  • But it announced its plans to sell the business in 2016 under then-boss Staley 

Barclays has completed its exit from Africa after selling its remaining 7.4 per cent stake in its South Africa-based subsidiary Absa.

The British lender told investors on Thursday it has raised gross sales proceeds of around £538million from placing 63 million Absa shares at 169 rand (£8.48) a piece, for a loss on sale of £31million.

It marks both the end of an investment made in 2005 and that of Barclay’s 97-year presence on the African continent. 

Barclays announced plans to sell Absa in 2016 under then-boss Jes Staley

Barclays announced plans to sell Absa in 2016 under then-boss Jes Staley

Barclays shares were down 1.5 per cent in early trading to 162.08p, bringing year-to-date losses to 17.3 per cent.

The banking giant’s intention to leave Africa was announced in 2016 under the leadership of then-boss Jes Staley, who had sought to simplify the business and focus on its key markets of the US and the UK.

A year later the firm sold a bigger stake in Absa than the market had expected, cutting its holding to 15 per cent on strong demand.

Staley left the lender in November 2021 after the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority began a probe into his links to the disgraced dead financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

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Staley is contesting the City regulators’ investigations, but Barclays earlier this year froze long-term bonus and share payments he was due as a result.

Originally known as Amalgamated Banks of South Africa, Absa offers personal and business banking, credit cards, corporate and investment banking, wealth and investment management, as well as bank assurance.

With offices across Africa, as well as London and New York, the bank’s 2005 acquisition by Barclays was later criticised governor of the South African Reserve Bank, Tito Mboweni.

Absa was later merged with Barclays Africa Limited in 2013.

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