• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Barclays Africa says applies for Nigerian licence



Barclays Africa Group has applied for a Nigerian banking licence and wants to take over the Egypt and Zimbabwe units still ran by its parent company, it said on Tuesday after reporting higher profits.

Like other South African companies, banks in the continent’s most advanced country are setting up operations in sub-Saharan Africa to tap growth from the robust economies there and hedge against stagnating growth at home.

Africa’s No. 3 lender said it was in talks with its British parent to take over the two African operations left out of a 2013 all-share deal that saw it acquire eight country subsidiaries on the continent.

Zimbabwe and Egypt were excluded from that arrangement because of political crises at the time.

“We would be keen to acquire those two countries into the portfolio, but it has to be done at a competitive price,” Chief Executive Maria Ramos said.

Barclays said businesses outside South Africa contributed 19 percent of group revenue, just below the 20-25 percent the company is aiming for by 2016.

Growth in Africa was key to Barclays, an analyst said.

“Bedding down Africa will be the big driver in the five big markets,” said Patrice Rassou, head of equities at Sanlam Investment Management, referring to South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Zambia and Botswana where Barclays aims to be a top-three bank.

Barclays posted a 10 percent rise in annual earnings by pumping up lending on one hand while squeezing bad debts on the other, similar to its smaller rival Nedbank.

Fourth-ranked Nedbank grew full-year earnings by 13 percent, while pack leader Standard Bank reports on March 5.

Barclays Africa said diluted headline earnings per share totalled 1,537.5 cents in the year to end-December, from 1,396.6 cents a year earlier. Headline EPS, which excludes certain items, is the main measure of profit in South Africa.

Net interest income – the measure of income from lending – climbed 10 percent to 35.6 billion rand while credit impairments contracted 10 percent to 6.3 billion rand.

The bank’s customer base grew by 7 percent over year, partially plugging a haemorrhage that saw it lose accounts to competitors such as FirstRand’s retail arm FNB, which has been on a marketing blitz to grow client numbers.

Barclays shares had fallen 1.8 percent by 1000 GMT, lagging a 0.5 percent drop by the South African banking index.