Amalgamated Banks of South Africa (ABSA) has returned to its roots following a century-old fusion with United Kingdom’s Barclay’s Bank.
The bank erstwhile known as Barclays Africa changed to its original name ABSA in a rebranding aimed at underlining its South African roots. This is even as Britain’s Barclays gradually retreats from Africa, following the sale of controlling stakes held by the British parent company in 2005.
ABSA, one of the big five banks in South Africa, is a financial services provider, offering personal and business banking, credit cards, corporate and investment banking, wealth and investment management as well as bancassurance.
Maria Ramos, chief executive officer of ABSA refocused the lender in April around four divisions which are retail and business banking, corporate and investment banking, rest of Africa, and wealth management and insurance in a bid to double its share of revenue from its 10 operations in Africa and regain market share in the South African retail market.
The restructuring started with halving the number of executives at the retail and business banking unit last month.
The roll out of the Absa brand in South Africa is also expected to be completed in 2019 and extended to its units in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia by mid-2020, the CEO said.
“Barclays has been a very big brand in Africa, not in SA necessarily, but in the rest of Africa,” said Adrian Cloete, a portfolio manager at PSG Wealth. “That means they’re going to have to spend more on their brand there when they brand back to Absa.”
According to reports, Ramos is not going into the overhaul empty-handed after negotiating £765 million ($1 billion) from Barclays for the investments needed in technology, rebranding and other separation-related expenses.
The separation has reinvigorated Absa as an independent and stand-alone business, Ramos said earlier this year. It is now determined to build a scalable, digital business in pursuit of its growth targets, she said at a presentation in Johannesburg on Wednesday. It will look at strategic partnerships as well as targeted acquisitions and disposal in existing markets.