Sunday, December 9, 2012

Barclays merger poised to beat competitors in pan-African drive


Barclays Bank of Kenya may have beaten its competitors unknowingly in rolling out a pan-African presence following its parent company’s decision to merge its business in sub-Saharan Africa.

The merger forming Barclays Africa is expected to be finalised by June next year and brings together Barclays’ businesses in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana, Mauritius, Seychelles, Ghana and Nigeria under one unit managed from Nairobi.

Local banks have been accelerating their pan-African drive to create a continental free trade area that is expected to more than double intra-African trade in the next 10 years.

With majority of competitors in the top five banks by profitability in Kenya — KCB, Equity Bank, Cooperative Bank — establishing presence outside Kenya, Barclays and Standard Chartered seemed left out in the expansion plan although their parent companies had independent presence in other Africa countries.

This difference had started showing in profit growth as investors seeking to go regional demanded more integrated banking solutions which the local arm could not offer.

A statement on the proposed merger says the combined business will create a pan-Africa financial services operation and a platform for further growth.

The bank said the amalgamation will create the largest bank in Africa with 1,300 outlets. Barclays Bank CEO Antony Jenkins said the merger is essential in furthering ‘One Bank in Africa’ strategy on the continent.

“This transaction will give us a platform from which we can further grow our Africa business to the benefit of customers, colleagues, shareholders and the communities we operate in,” Mr Jenkins said in a statement.