London-based Barclays has decided to sell its Africa operations, which includes the Absa Group, the Financial Times said.
The sale forms part of Barclays’ plans to focus on US and UK markets and is expected to be announced tomorrow.
The Financial Times reported that the Barclays board decided last week to exit Africa after a review led by new CEO Jes Staley.
A subcommittee was asked to look into how and when Barclays Africa would be sold, the newspaper said.
Barclays Africa said at the weekend the reports were “still speculation at the moment”.
Barclays owns 62.3% of Barclays Africa, a stake valued at about R76.5-billion, based on a market capitalisation of R122.8-billion on Friday.
The Public Investment Corporation (PIC), which manages about R1.5-trillion in assets on behalf of the Government Employees Pension Fund, told Business Day last month it was keen to increase its stake in Barclays Africa if the group’s parent in London sells down.
A sell-down is seen as an opportunity for domestic investors to reclaim the banking asset from British control.
The PIC is the biggest South African investor in Barclays Africa, with a 5.44% stake – valued at about R5-billion at current market prices.
The talk of a sell-down comes less than three years after Barclays increased its stake in Barclays Africa Group to 62.3% from 55% in an R18-billion deal. In that transaction, Absa bought eight of Barclays’ African operations to form the Barclays Africa Group.
Barclays had initially acquired its 55% stake in Absa Group in 2005 for $5.5-billion, more than 10 years ago.