12 July 2018

Africa: Barclays Africa Rebrands to Absa

BARCLAYS Africa changed its name back to Absa Group Limited yesterday and will rename its Barclays Bank subsidiaries in Tanzania and some other African countries within the next two years, subject to approvals.

The lender reverted to Absa Group Ltd. as it severs ties with Barclays Plc after the London-based company sold down the controlling stake it bought in 2005 to end more than a century of the British bank's involvement in Africa.

Barclays Bank Tanzania Managing Directors told reporters in Dar es Salaam yesterday that Barclays Bank Tanzania will be renamed at a later stage, subject to regulatory and other approvals in Tanzania.

"Right now we will continue to operate under the Barclays brand in Tanzania even though our parent name has changed to Absa Group Limited," he said.

"In Tanzania the change means a continuation of products and services that customers currently use and opportunity for us to do better for our customers and clients in the future."

The name change signals the start of a new era for the group as a standalone African banking group with deep roots on the continent and more than 100 years of experience in Africa's banking sector, he said.

"While our parent name has changed today, our clients and customers can continue to bank with us...We are here to stay, working with all our stakeholders to grow a better Tanzania," he said.

Barclays Africa Group Limited controls 100 per cent stake in Barclays Bank Tanzania and is majority shareholders to NBC Bank Limited which is among top five largest banks in Tanzania in terms of assets and profitability.

It also has subsidiaries in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Uganda and Zambia. Currently Absa is the brand name for the group's retail banks in South Africa but in future all of the group's operations across Africa will use that brand name.

"Today we celebrate an important milestone in our pursuit of our vision to create a banking group that Africa can truly be proud of," Absa Chief Executive Maria Ramos said at an event in Johannesburg.

"Our new name and brand are an expression of our new purpose and strategic direction, which commits us to growing in Africa."

Absa was originally an acronym for Amalgamated Banks of South Africa. It was formed in 1991 through the merger of several South African banks including Volkskas Bank, a financial services conglomerate founded in the 1930s to mobilise the economic power of Afrikaners, white South Africans of mainly Dutch descent who ruled under apartheid.

Barclays bought a majority stake in Absa in 2005, but reduced its holding last year from 62 percent to 15 per cent by selling shares to large investors, including South Africa's Public Investment Corporation.

The roll-out in South Africa of the new brand would be completed next year, Absa said in a statement. Absa, which vies with Standard Bank, Nedbank and FirstRand, will rebrand its operations elsewhere in Africa by mid-2020.

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