Barclays Bank slams sale reports as ‘speculation’

Barclays Bank Ghana has declined to comment on current reports that Barclays Bank intends to cut back on its operations in Africa.

There are reports that Barclay’s Bank as part of its turnaround strategy initiated by its new chief executive Jes Staley, could consider selling part or the whole of its Africa business.

According to a publication from the Wall Street Journal for example, Barclays is putting together plans to sell some of its 62% stake in Barclays Africa Group Ltd, which plays host to most of its African business.

The move if carried out could see thousands of jobs being cut and hundreds of branches closed across Africa.

Barclays bank Africa is one of the continent’s largest banks, employing about 44,000 people with 1,267 branches.

Barclays Africa generated $1.64 billion of pretax profits in the first nine months of last year, 15 per cent of the bank’s total.

However, people familiar with the matter have opined that the move will not necessarily affect the bank’s Ghana operations but may hit the retail banking operations in major parts of Africa, including South Africa, Kenya, Mauritius, Botswana and Zambia.

Barclays Ghana however declined to comment on the matter when Citi Business News contacted it.

The bank stated that ‘the reports were media speculations and the bank will not respond to the reports’.

Meanwhile Banking Consultant Nana Otuo Acheampong who spoke to Citi Business News on implications of the latest development said.

“It comes as sad news because it will be sad and regrettable to lose the capacity of Barclays which will be celebrating a hundred years of being in Ghana in particular since 1917; it doesn’t come as good news at all if the speculation is correct.

“They want to get rid of their 62 percent of their operations in Africa some of the reports are those which said that to identify some of the countries that they might be investing in so until the picture has been cleared, we can only speculate that what the headline story says they are getting out of Africa because they have done an evaluation and they think that their operations in Africa doesn’t constitute their core business at best it contributes over 15 percent,

“let’s stop it so the new that they have with their CEO is that they want to concentrate on their core business and get rid of these tangential ones as to whether the Ghana operations will be among the list of the ones they want to get rid of, that one it be the preserve of the management of Barclays International.”

He fears if the bank does not get an equal giant to take over its operations in Africa, if the sale goes ahead it will have massive implications.

“They will go to the market and sell it to the highest bidder this is where our fears are but we hope that it will be an equally big institution so that the capacity building that Barclays has brought to the banking industry Ghana we will still benefit from it because as an international conglomerate in Ghana benefits a lot in that international exposure.

“If they go out and are not equally replaced by an equally internationally endowed institution, then we will be the loser. Some of these equally recognized institutions include Standard Chartered, First Rand and Standard Bank.”

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