Barclays pulls out of Africa after selling off Absa stake

The bank announced it has sold its remaining 7.4% holding in South African lender Absa, signalling the end of its 97-year presence on the continent.

British banking giant Barclays has pulled out of Africa six years after first announcing exit plans.

It said it has sold its remaining 7.4% stake in South African lender Absa, signalling the end of its 97-year retail banking presence on the continent.

Barclays announced on Thursday that it had raised around £538 million from the sale of more than 63 million shares in the business.

But it reported a loss of £31 million through its income statement, suggesting it has taken a hit from selling off its stake.

In 2016, former chief executive Jes Staley led plans to make a strategic exit from Africa in a move to refocus the bank on its core UK and US markets.

This also involved proposals to close smaller operations in Asia, Brazil, Europe and Russia.

The decision meant getting rid of its 62% stake in Barclays Africa, which was a merger of Absa and Barclay’s African operations and had about 45,000 employees, making up a third of all Barclays staff before the departure.

Absa controls banks in 10 African countries, including Ghana, Kenya, Botswana and Tanzania, serving millions of customers.

In April, the British lender said it had raised a similar amount from another 7.4% Absa stake sale as it looked to bolster its capital finances.

Barclays said the proceeds of the sale of its remaining shares – known as bookbuild placing – will be used for general corporate purposes.

The business confirmed it has one remaining office in Johannesburg with around 15 staff who work with investment, corporate and private banking clients, and more than 100 Africa-focused bankers across the globe.

Shares in the bank were down slightly on Thursday morning following the announcement.

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