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Barclays still waits for nod from the SARB

Companies
Johannesburg - Barclay's application to reduce its shareholding in Barclays Africa to below 50 percent was still under the consideration of the South African Reserve Bank and National Treasury and could be finalised soon, Reserve Bank deputy governor and Registrar of Bank, Kuben Naidoo, said on Friday.

The Reserve Bank last year gave Barclays approval to sell 12.2 percent which reduced its shareholding from 62.3 percent to 50.1 percent.

“They have requested regulatory approval to sell below 50 percent and that is under consideration, both by the Reserve Bank and Ministry of Finance.

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A Barclays Africa branch is seen in downtown Harare. Picture: Nicola Mawson

“It is a fairly complex transaction and has significant implications for South African banks. This particular decision has to be taken by the Minister of Finance on the recommendations of the Registrar of Banks. So we will jointly make that decision.

“It is fair to say that the arrival of the new Minister has probably contributed to slowing that process down. I think that is only natural.

"Any new minister wants to be on top of issues and wants to understand the details and issues. I think that issue will be resolved very quickly,” he said.

Meanwhile, Naidoo said Tyme Capital, Discovery Limited and Postbank were likely to apply for their banking licences soon.

Tyme had until June 8 to apply. He said the Reserve Bank could take 6 months to a year to evaluate the application. On the other hand, the Postbank must submit its application by July 3, while Discovery must apply in October.

Read also: Barclays Zim staff try block sale

He said the companies had to apply for the banking licences by those dates because their respective provisional licences would expire.

In his budget vote speech, Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Siyabonga Cwele, said last week that the corporatisation and full licensing of the Postbank was on track “as part of government effort to ensure financial inclusion in the underserved market.”

Registered

The South African Post Office (Sapo) obtained approval to establish a bank from the regulator in July last year. Cwele said Postbank was already registered as a company and its first board was appointed in March.

“It is important to note that despite the challenges in Sapo, the Postbank division is well cushioned, managed and profitable, with its capital adequacy requirements in excess by R1.4 billion in the last financial year.

"In April 2016, Sapo was authorised to increase its long-term borrowing to R3.7 billion in the domestic markets. This enabled Sapo to settle past debt, which was crippling its operations.

"The rest is being spent on revenue generation measures of the Strategic Turnaround Plan. Sapo is ready to assist Sassa to take over the payment of social grants as directed by the court,” he said.

Naidoo also reported on developments at Residual Debt Services (RDS), which came about when African Bank was divided into “good” and “bad” banks.

“RDS, the bad book of African Bank, is under curatorship. The performance of RDS has been very good. They have fully repaid the R3.3 billion loan that the Reserve Bank issued and now their collections are on target and on track,” he said.

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