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Why Barclays is re-branding as Absa

The South African bank to open offices in London and New York to serve clients seeking to invest in Africa

Kampala,Uganda | ISAAC KHISA | Barclays Africa Group Limited (BAGL)plans to return to is former name, Absa, across its operations on the African continent.

The bank’s executives said the move is to reclaimthe African identity and ‘become a banking group of which Africans can be proud… recognizes African heritage, rooted in Africa, and with global reach.’

The decision follows successful reduction of shares by its majority shareholder – the London-based Barclays PLC –that is exiting the African market subject to regulatory approvals and holding of the shareholders Annual General Meeting scheduled for May, 2018.

Barclay’s operationswill trade as Absa, its original name, prior to Barclay’s purchaseof majority stake in the bank in 2005.

BAGL Chief Executive Officer, Maria Ramos, who used the opportunity of the bank’s annual performance announcementto reveal the transition process on March 01, saidthis development comes after an extensive research internally and externally. Ramos said the process included more than 130,000 conversations with employees and stakeholders.

“This is an exciting time for us…the sell-down gave as an opportunity to rollout a brand that reflects our identity in Africa and to unite our operations behind  one name” she said. “We will be Absa, not as you know it, but re-launched, represented and with an identity fit for the new and forward looking business we are creating.”

Listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange,BAGL has operations in 12 African countries including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia and South Africa, with approximately 40,000 employees. It is one of  Africa’s major financial services provider with a portfolio that includes personal and business banking, credit cards, corporate and investment banking, wealth and investment management.

The rebranding exercise comes two years since the London-based Barclays decided to sell its operations on the African continent.The bank reduced its majority stake from 62.3% to merely 14.9% and will contribute US $1.04bn (£765million) towards the bank’s rebranding agenda.

Ramos said the bank’s priority is to restore leading positions in core business areas while expanding into new markets, enabling the group to deliver double digit growth.

This will include expanding its corporate and investment banking unit to certain international jurisdictions, with offices set to open in London and later in New York, trading as Absa Securities, and offering opportunities for its clients, offshore investors and corporate institutions seeking to invest in Africa.

“Growth has to be an essential part of our DNA, the driver behind our every action and a core facet of our ambition for this business,” she said, adding that the bank’s ambition is to double its market share of African banking revenues to 12% in the coming few years.

This development comesas the BAGL  recorded a 4% increase in headline earnings in 2017 to US$ 1.3bn  (R15.6bn) compared with the previous year despite the continued slow economic expansions in some of the Group’s largest markets, including South Africa, where it generates approx. 80% of its income.

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