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Barclays beats retreats in Africa


Barclays was one the few western banks to blaze a trail into sub-Saharan Africa. Now it is preparing to stage a gradual retreat.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Barclays executives have concluded that being the majority owner of a sprawling African business no longer fits with the bank’s strategy.

The bank is said to be drawing up plans to sell some of its 62% stake in its Barclays Africa group, the publicly traded entity that houses most of its African business

The decision is part of a plan by Barclays’ new chief executive, Jes Staley, to refocus the bank on a narrower range of profitable activities.

It comes as lenders world-wide dial back their ambitions, and financial turmoil dims the allure of operating in risky emerging markets.

Barclays Bank employs approximately 44,000 people and has over 1200 branches in Africa, making it one of the largest banks in the continent.

The plan to retreat marks a symbolic reversal for Barclays which build up its African banking network over nearly a century, making it one of the leading western banks, along with Standard Chartered and Citigroup operating on the continent.

Successive CEOs touted the business as a growth driver for the British bank.

But amid investor and regulatory pressure Barclays, like many of its European peers, is having to damp down its global ambitions.