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Why Barclays Is Rebranding Into Absa

Barclays Thursday announced that it will lose its 100-year identity.

Going forward, Barclays Africa Group Limited will be renamed Absa Group Limited in due course and trade as Absa across its operations (currently branded Barclays) in Africa, pending shareholder and regulatory approvals.

This means that Barclays Uganda will now be known as Absa Uganda before 2020.

Absa is currently the brand of the Barclays Africa Group’s South African business.

Barclays Africa Group CEO Maria Ramos said the bank is embarking on a new business strategy to deliver on ambitious goals following the successful sell-down by Barclays PLC of its majority stake.

“The sell-down gave us the opportunity to roll out a brand that reflects our identity in Africa and to unite our operations in 10 countries behind one name,” Ramos said. “We will be Absa, not as you know it, but relaunched, re-presented and with an identity fit for the new and forward-looking business we are creating.”

The Absa brand has substantial equity as one of the largest banks in South Africa and enjoys recognition in many of the countries in which Barclays Africa operates under the Barclays brand currently.

Ramos added that Barclays Africa Group undertook extensive research internally and externally, in a process that included more than 130 000 conversations with employees and stakeholders about the brand and strategy of the Group.

“The implementation of this decision necessitates that we take into account practical considerations and dynamics in each market so that it is as seamless as possible. The change will be rolled out in time, bearing in mind the mid-2020 rebranding deadline.  This transition will be undertaken with the utmost care,” said Peter Matlare, Deputy CEO.

“We are re-setting our business with a bold, new growth strategy that leverages our existing footprint and market insights,” Ramos said. “The new identity is further evidence of the scale of the transformation and change in our business – a new brand for a new banking group,” Ramos said.

She added: “Our overriding goal is to become a banking group of which Africa can be proud, a forward-looking African business that recognises our African heritage, rooted in Africa, with global reach. We have a clear and undiluted ambition to double in size and achieve a 12% market share of banking revenues across Africa in five years. It is a bold plan for growth.”

A priority for Barclays Africa is to restore leading positions in core business areas, while expanding into new markets, enabling the group to deliver double-digit growth, she added.

The Group will expand its corporate and investment banking unit to certain international jurisdictions, with offices set to open in London and later in New York, trading as Absa Securities, and offering opportunities for our clients to financial markets offshore, and providing access to corporates and institutions seeking to invest in Africa.

As an independent and stand-alone business, Barclays Africa will have the agility, the means and the risk appetite to strive for growth, said Ramos.

“This is an exciting time for us. The sell-down has provided us with the headroom to reinvigorate our company while building on the proud heritage Barclays has in Africa. We will work hard to deliver on our new strategy and to build our reputation as a bold, trusted, innovative and customer-focused brand.

Barclays Africa group is building a scalable, digitally led business, passionate about innovation, Ramos said.

What Does This Mean To The Customers

Rakesh Jha, Barclays Uganda Managing Director said apart from having a new identity, customers will not be inconvenienced, adding that they will instead get superior services.

“Our customers will continue to get the best services. The bank remains the same but with a new identity,” Jha said, adding that the transition from Barclays Uganda into Absa Uganda will be completed before 2020.

Rakesh Jha, Barclays Uganda Managing Director

He noted that the process to rebrand has a lot kick-started.

Ramos added that the new identity and strategy means that they are creating a business that is obsessed about meeting and exceeding their customers’ expectations.

“They will experience a partner who cares for their future, holds their best interests at heart and operates to the highest standards of professionalism and conduct,” she said, adding: “It will be digitally pioneering, and data led, understanding and anticipating customer needs and aspirations, helping them bring their possibility to life.”


Improved Performance

In a related development, Barclays Africa Group also released its first annual financial results since the successful conclusion of the reduction by Barclays PLC of its majority shareholding in Barclays Africa Group last year.

The Group reported a 4% increase in headline earnings in 2017 as impairments declined substantially from a high base in 2016. Return on equity of 16.4% remains strong.

Headline earnings, a measure analysts use to gauge profitability, grew despite the continued slow economic expansion in some of the Group’s largest markets, including South Africa, where the Group generates approximately 80% of its income.

Barclays Africa Group continues to have solid balance sheet assets of R1.2 trillion and strong capital and liquidity levels – these are measures of the strength of buffers banks have in place to protect customer deposits.


Taddewo William Senyonyi
William is a seasoned business and finance journalist. He is also an agripreneur and a coffee enthusiast.

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