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Absa Group Limited


Absa Group Limited

Barclays Africa Group
Type Public
Traded as
Industry Banking, Financial services, Investment services, Insuring services
Founded 1991 (as Amalgamated Banks of South Africa Limited) changed name to Barclays Africa Group Limited 2013
Headquarters Johannesburg, South Africa
Area served Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia.
Key people Wendy Lucas-Bull
Maria Ramos
(Group Chief Executive)[1]
Products Commercial banking, Finance and insurance, Retail Banking, Credit Cards, Private equity, Investment Management, Investment banking
Revenue R4.66 billion (June 30, 2013)[2]
Total assets R841.33 billion (30 June 2013)[3]
Owner(s) Barclays plc (62.3%)
Employees 33 879 (permanent) (June 2013)

The Barclays Africa Group Limited (JSE: BGA), also known as BarclaysAfrica or the Group, formerly Absa Group Limited, is one of Africa’s major financial services providers offering personal and business banking, credit cards, corporate and investment banking, wealth and investment management as well as bancassurance.


Barclays AfricaGroup Limited (Barclays Africa Group or the Group) is 62.3% owned by Barclays Bank PLC and is listed on the JSE Limited. The Group is one of Africa’s major financial services providers offering personal and business banking, credit cards, corporate and investment banking, wealth and investment management as well as bancassurance.

The Group was formed through combining Absa Group Limited and Barclays’ African operations on 31 July 2013. Reflecting the enlarged group’s pan-African focus, the Group's name changed from Absa Group Limited, to Barclays Africa Group Limited on 2 August 2013. Registered head offices are in South Africa and the Group has majority stakes in banks in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania (Barclays BankTanzania and National Bank of Commerce), Uganda and Zambia. The Group has representative offices in Namibia and Nigeria, as well as bancassurance operations in Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia. Barclays Bank Kenya and Barclays Bank Botswana continue to be listed on their respective stockexchanges. Barclays Bank PLC has operations in Egypt and Zimbabwe, which are part of the African business and continue to be run by Barclays Africa Group’s management

Absa is a signatory of the South African Financial Sector Charter.


Absa was founded in 1991 through the merger of various financial service providers such as the United, Allied, the Volkskas Groups as well as the Sage Group. The following year, Absa acquired the entire shareholding of the Bankorp Group which included Trustbank, Senbank and Bankfin, thereby extending its asset base further. In the early years of this union, each bank operated under its own name. It wasn’t until 1998 that they all fused into one single brand. A year later, Absa adopted a new corporate identity and the name was changed into Absa Group Limited.[4]

In May 2005 Barclays Bank of the United Kingdom purchased 56.4% stake in Absa as part of its drive to expand its global product and international retail and commercial banking businesses to untapped markets outside the UK. This transaction was Barclays' largest foreign direct investment in South Africa, and its largest investment outside the UK.[5] In early 2007 the Barclays Bank acquisition of Absa came under criticism from then governor of the South African Reserve Bank, Tito Mboweni who said he "had yet to see the benefits of Barclays' management of Absa".[6]

In 2013,  the Group acquired the entire issued share capital of Barclays Africa Limited and issued 129,540,636 Consideration Shares to Barclays Africa Group Holdings Limited (a wholly owned subsidiary of Barclays) thus increasing the shareholding of Barclays Bank PLC to 62,3%. The Consideration Shares were listed on the JSE from the commencement of trading on 31 July 2013. The name change from “AbsaGroup Limited” to “Barclays Africa Group Limited” as announced on 22 July 2013, became effective 2 August 2013.


To cement the union achieved in 1998, it became clear to someone that the Absa brand had to be reinvented. In 1998, Absa decided to adopt a single brand and provide an array of financial services – a one-stop shop supposedly offering "simple, uncomplicated banking relationships, value for money, stability, convenience and superior customer service".[7]

In creating this new Absa corporate identity the colour red was made more prominent throughout Absa branding. It developed into a differentiating factor between the four main competitors. According to the company, the colour red is associated with excitement and energy and it gives Absa a modern feel.[7]

Barclays Africa Group

Barclays Africa Group Structure

Barclays Africa Group Limited (Barclays Africa Group or the Group) is 62.3% owned by Barclays BankPLC and is listed on the JSE Limited. Barclays Bank Kenya and Barclays Bank Botswana continue to be listed on their respective stockexchanges. In addition to the entities listed in thislegal structure, Barclays BankPLC has operations in Egypt and Zimbabwe which are an integral part of ourAfrican business and continue to be run by Barclays Africa Group operationally. [Nola1]Reference:


In 2009, Absa appointed one of South Africa’s most successful and highlyregarded businesswomen, Maria Ramos as the Group Chief Executive. Prior to joining Absa, Ramos had held numerous high-profilejobs as the Director-General of the National Treasury from 1996 to 2003, and asGroup Executive of Transnet Limited from 2004 to 2009. She has been ranked as the ninth most influentialwoman in international business by Fortune magazine; she won South Africa’sBusiness Woman of the Year award in 2001; and was named Business Leader of theYear by the Sunday Times’ Business Times in 2005.

Barclays Africa Group executive committee:[8]

  • Group Chief Executive Maria Ramos
  • Chief Executive: Absa Financial Services Willie Lategan
  • Chief Executive: Barclays Africa and Head of Absa Group Strategy Kennedy Bungane
  • Chief Executive: Corporate, Investment Banking and Wealth Stephen van Coller
  • Chief Executive: Retail and Business Banking Craig Bond
  • Chief Operating and Integration Officer: David Skillen
  • Chief Risk Officer: Jan Lubbe
  • General Counsel: Charles Wheeler
  • Group Executive: Marketing, Communications and Public Affairs Bobby Malabie
  • Group Financial Director: David Hodnett
  • Group Human Resources Executive: Sarah Louw

Major Shareholders

Below is the Group’s 10 largest shareholders as at 30 June 2013

Majority shareholders 30 June 2013 (%)
Barclays Bank PLC (UK) 55.52
Public Investment Corporation (SA) 7.16
Sanlam Investment Management (SA) 2.89
Old Mutual Asset Managers (SA) 2.24
Dimensional Fund Advisors (US, UK, AU) 2.01
Investec Asset Management (SA, UK) 1.52
Allan Gray Investment Council (SA) 1.47
StanLib Asset Management (SA) 1.43
The Vanguard Group(US, AU) 1.42
Oppenheimer Funds Incorporated (US) 1.28
Other 23.06
Geographical holding (by owner) 31 Dec 2012 (%)
United Kingdom 57.6
South Africa 26.2
United States and Canada 8.8
Other countries 7.4

Social Responsibility

In 2007, Absa spent R60, 9 million in Corporate Social Investment (CSI) projects.[9] The Group’s key focus areas within CSI have been selected to meet the company’s goal of improving the lives of underprivileged South Africans. These areas include education, entrepreneurship, health and disability, and the environment.


In an effort to promote its business, improve the quality of education and widen access among rural and disadvantaged communities, Absa has embarked on two educational programmes; the Beyers Naudé Schools Development Programme and the Absa/Sowetan Early Childhood Development Awards.

Beyers Naudé Schools Development Programme

In partnership with Kagiso Trust and the Department of Education, Absa developed the Beyers Naudé Schools Development Programme which is committed to improving maths and science grades in disadvantaged schools across South Africa.[10] The programme was first introduced in Thohoyandou, Limpopo. In addition to training educators, the programme also rewards high performance schools by developing their infrastructure in the maths, science and technology area. In 2007, Absa spent R2, 5 million towards the project.[10]

Absa/Sowetan Early Childhood Development Awards

The Absa/Sowetan Early Childhood Development (ECD) Awards provide a platform and support for ECD practitioners working in rural and disadvantaged communities. The awards give recognition to leading ECD practitioners and centres, and at the same time encourage other practitioners to exceed expectations.[10]


The Group contributes to the development of entrepreneurship in South Africa by offering young entrepreneurs start-up capital, mentorship and skills training.[11] In March 2011, Absa Small Business launched a new initiative called Opening Doors. The initiative does not only endow SMMEs with funding, but also offers help and advice to business owners who want grow and expand their businesses.[12]

Health and Disability:

Absa has joined forces with the Public Benefit Organizations to provide HIV and Aids awareness, home-based care, and assistance to orphans and vulnerable children. The Group also runs a number of special health projects as a joint venture with the Cancer Association of South Africa and the Walter Sisulu Paediatric Cardiac Centre for Africa.[13]

Additionally, Absa has formed a partnership with the Thabo Mbeki Development Trust for disabled people. The aim here is to support the empowerment of persons with disabilities.[14]


Through collaborations with organizations such as The Peace Parks Foundation, World Wildlife Fund, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, Absa creates environmental awareness and helps to preserve South Africa’s rich natural heritage.[15]

In 2007, the Group donated R1, 5 million to the Baswa Le Meetse initiative meaning “Youth in Water” and in turn ensured that 75 South African communities have access to clean water. In the next ten years, Absa will be investing R10 million to establish the Great Limpopo Transfronteir Park and other Peace Parks.[16]


Absa sponsors a range of activities in the arts and sports sectors. It is known for its great support in arts festival like Aardklop, Absa Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK), and the biggest design industry event, Design Indaba. The bank also sponsors various theatre productions, the TV game show Noot vir Noot, and hosts South Africa’s longest running national arts competition, the ABSA L’Atelier Art Competition. The top two artists at L’Atelier are given the opportunity to study at the prestigious art school, Cité Internationale Des Arts in Paris.[17]

In terms of sports development, Absa in association with Barclays has created a high-tech sports facility for the community of Gansbaai in the Western Cape. The centre offers professional coaching in soccer, netball, basketball and cricket. Absa has invested R4, 6 million in the project which will help the community of Gansbaai get their kids off the streets and give them an opportunity to engage in sports instead.[18]

Absa also sponsors major sports teams including the national squad Bafana Bafana and the Springboks (South African rugby team); and major sporting events such as the Absa Currie Cup, Absa Premiership and the mountain bike racing event Absa Cape Epic.[19]

Bank Charges

A 2008 Finweek Bank Charges Report[20] has found ABSA Bank to be the most expensive bank in South Africa. A year later, the 2009 Finweek Bank Charges report[21] again not only found ABSA to charge the most for its services, but that ABSA topped the list for a second consecutive time for the biggest increase in bank charges. In 2010 ABSA was again rated by both Fin24[22] and Afriforum[23] as having the highest bank charges in the country. Increasing by 82% in pay-as-you-transact (PAYT) fees from 2005 to 2010.[22]

Achievements and Awards

The Group has several prominent banking awards under its belt. In 2009 it was awarded the coveted African Banker accolade as the most Innovative Bank in Africa and New York’s Global Finance magazine named it the Best Islamic Bank in the Middle East and Africa. The year 2010 saw the Group scoop two PMR Africa Silver Arrow Awards for Islamic Banking; the Asian Banker honoured it with two awards as the Best Mobile Phone Banking internationally and Best Retail Bank in South Africa; and one of its divisions, Absa Capital, ranked Overall Top Bank in the 2010 Risk Magazine South Africa survey.[24]

In 2011, for the sixth year in a row, Absa walked away with the Coolest Bank Award at the Sunday Times Generation Next Awards which were held at the Theatre on the Track in Kyalami, Johannesburg. 7000 youths from across six different provinces voted for Absa as the Coolest Bank in the annual Sunday Times Generation Next 2011 Survey.[25]

  • Absa was awarded first place for skills development among all corporates, second place overall for best managed company in the financial sector in 2009
  • Absa became the first South African bank to register its one millionth cellphone banking customers in 2009
  • In 2009, Global Finance magazine announced in New York that Absa Islamic Banking had been awarded the title of Best Islamic Bank in the Middle East and Africa, as part of its annual recognition of the World’s Best Islamic Financial Institutions
  • Absa was awarded the coveted African Banker 2009 accolade as the Most Innovative Bank in Africa
  • Absa was named winner of “The Most innovative use of IT” at the 2009 Banking Technology Awards, for Absa’s multi-channel CashSend service
  • Absa was voted the Best Company to work for in South Africa (Deloitte & Touche Human Capital Corporation)
  • On August 2010, Absa reclaimed the top accolade from Sunday Times Top Brands Awards in Johannesburg. It was named the number 1 Retail Banking Brand and also scored the number 2 position in the Short-term Insurance segment, ahead of Outsurance and Hollard
  • Absa Islamic Banking scooped two PMR Africa Silver Arrow awards in 2010
  • Absa Capital ranked Overall Top Bank in the 2010 Risk Magazine South Africa survey
  • On 11 March 2011, the Asian Banker and its international panel of judges presented Absa Retail Banking with two awards – Best Mobile Phone Banking (international) and the Best Retail Bank in South Africa for 2010
  • For a record sixth year running, Absa walked away with the Coolest Bank Award at the 2011 Sunday Times Generation Next Awards[26]


External links

  • Official website
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