Friday, December 3, 2021

Barclays boss dismisses Africa exit reports as speculation

Barclays Bank Botswana Managing Director, Reinette van Der Merwe has declined to comment on circulating reports that Barclays Bank Plc intends to cut back on its operations in Africa. There have been recent reports that Barclays Bank will embark on a new turnaround strategy that was initiated by its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jes Staley, which will entail the bank selling part or all of its Africa business.

However in an interview last week, the local Managing Director, van Der Merwe distanced the bank from the reports which she described as ‘speculation’. 

“We do not comment on market speculation,” she said.

Barclays Bank Africa, which owns the local subsidiary jointly with South Africa’s Absa, is one of the continent’s largest banks, employing about 44,000 people with 1,267 branches. Meanwhile a leading UK newspaper, The Guardian reported Thursday that the new Barclays boss, Jes Staley has kicked off a fresh wave of cuts at the group’s investment banking arm, with plans to axe 1,200 jobs and pull out of several Asian countries. Barclays said it would close offices in nine countries around the world, with the Asia Pacific region bearing the brunt of the cuts.

The bank will pull out of Australia, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines, but will offer banking coverage for those countries from other locations. It will keep offices in Hong Kong, China, Japan, Singapore and India, and hold on to its prime brokerage and derivatives business in Asia. Barclays’ investment bank is also exiting Russia and will cover the country from London instead. It is scaling back cash equity sales around the globe, with the planned withdrawal from some central European and Middle Eastern countries as well as in the Asia Pacific zone. The bank’s China business is not affected by the cutbacks.

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