How Barclays’ big play re-energized its Africa private wealth business
Bidding $2.5 billion for the bulk of Credit Suisse’s sub-Saharan Africa ultra-high net-worth private bank book 18 months ago has been a ‘game changer’ for Barclays in the region, the UK bank’s Africa market head Amol Prabhu tells Euromoney.
In November 2021, Amol Prabhu and Rahim Daya, senior bankers at Barclays, got wind of the fact that Credit Suisse was keen to offload a sizeable chunk of its Africa private banking business.
The Swiss lender, now owned by UBS, was once again draining the bitter cup, having slogged its way through a year that saw it clobbered by the Archegos and Greensill scandals, and that culminated with it swallowing a SFr1.57 billion ($1.75 billion) full-year loss.
Prabhu, the UK lender’s South Africa country chief and Africa market head, and Daya, CEO of its Swiss private bank and head of Middle East operations, jumped into action.
Credit Suisse had just unveiled a strategic refresh that involved divesting its hedge fund business and shifting more resources to wealth management. Part of that plan would see it sell its ultra-high net-worth (UHNW) private client book in nine sub-Saharan Africa markets, including Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria. It would retain its South Africa book.
We’ve experienced five years of growth in just 18 months. Our Africa UHNW private banking business has nearly tripled in size
To the Swiss wealth manager, these were non-core markets deemed surplus to requirements.