Absa

Platinum prices have been pretty rocky of late (see chart), but that’s not stopped exchange traded funds in the metal doing well. Earlier this year, Absa listed its fully-backed platinum ETF, NewPlat, on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

It has now emerged that NewPlat now accounts for approximately 20 per cent of the total global platinum ETF holdings. Absa confirmed to beyondbrics that as of the end of Thursday, the fund held 391,789 ounces of platinum to back its securities, representing over one-fifth of all platinum held by ETFs. What’s going on? 

Absa has agreed to buy Barclays Africa in an all-share deal worth R18,33bn (£1.3bn), writes Alistair Gray.

As a result, Barclays – which paid $4.5bn for a majority stake in Absa in 2005 – will increase its stake in one of South Africa’s big four banks from 55.5 per cent to 62.3 per cent. 

ETFs aren’t just for developed market exchanges, as a new listing in Ghana shows.

Absa Capital’s gold-backed NewGold ETF, launched last week, follows its secondary listings in Botswana in 2010 and Nigeria in December 2011 with an initial offering to investors of 400,000 units, with each costing 31 cedis ($16) and representing 0.01 ounces of bullion. 

With Africa at the forefront for investors looking for new opportunities, it is no surprise to see established companies highlighting their Africa exposure.

At Barclays Bank, the effort  is already well underway, with the British lender last year moving its Africa headquarters from Dubai to Johannesburg and integrating its operations with Absa, the big South African bank that it controls.

On Tuesday, Barclays announced its next move – combining the two businesses into one.  It’s logical and well-intended. But it could still prove tricky given the many national regulators involved. Not for nothing did Barclays warn that there was “no certainty” the proposals would succeed.