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Africa: Absa looks abroad in wholesale banking push

London office slated for Q3, New York for 2019; CIB crucial to target of doubling revenue share.


With a new office in London and another one soon in New York, Absa is returning to the global financial scene as an independent entity for the first time since the early 2000s.

Moreover, what was mostly just a South African bank when Barclays bought it in 2005 is now a pan-African lender, with a presence in 12 other African countries thanks to Barclays’ exit.

Speaking to Euromoney in London in May at an African financial conference, where Absa was the lead sponsor, the bank’s co-head of corporate and investment banking Mike Harvey still seems slightly defensive at first.

This is perhaps to be expected, given the firm’s necessarily retiring nature previously, at least outside Africa: Barclays’ decision to exit the continent was hardly a vote of confidence.

But Harvey quickly warms to his theme: what was Barclays Africa is now Absa. And the exit sets it free.

The bank, which is based and listed in Johannesburg, confirmed its decision to roll out the South African brand across Barclays’ former African businesses in March. At the same time, it said its target was to double its share of African banking revenue to 12%.

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