Barclays

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. 

Standard Chartered will acquire Barclays’ Indian retail banking assets for a roughly 5 per cent premium on its $566m total book size, according to the Economic Times. The deal will include mortgages, loans against property, personal loans and commercial banking assets.

It would be the second retail banking deal between the two in less than a year. In December, as beyondbrics reported, Barclays sold its credit card business – 150,000 card accounts for $35m – to StanChart, as part of its efforts to exit its India retail operations. 

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. 

The Zimbabwe government’s latest threat to foreign business – this time foreign banks – is seen in Harare as bluster rather than substance. The instruction by Saviour Kasukuwere, minister for indigenisation (pictured), to a handful of foreign-owned banks to reduce their ownership to a maximum of 49 per cent by July 2013 has more to do with his political party’s dismal electoral prospects than serious restructuring of Zimbabwe’s financial system. 

It’s one small step for Barclays but one giant leap for Qatar’s financial centre. The UK bank will be the first to base a sizeable asset management operation in Doha’s financial zone, thanks in part to a $250m investment from Qatar.

The Qatar Financial Centre, facing off against regional competitors in Dubai and Bahrain, has long said it hopes to build a niche specialty as an asset management hub. While some local and regional firms, as well as international banks, have become licensed asset managers within the QFC, this week’s deal will make Barclays the most significant international operation in the centre.

 

For two years Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF has been ratcheting up the pressure on foreign-owned firms demanding that they dispose of a minimum of 51 per cent of their shares to indigenous Zimbabweans. This week’s agreement (in principle) for the localisation of majority ownership of Zimbabwe’s largest exporter Zimplats has the potential to be a gamechanger, economically and politically.

With elections due in the next 18 months, the Zanu-PF will be keen to push on with the programme. So which companies are next in line?