Barclays unit hires more staff in Africa

Renée Bonorchis

Barclays’s African investment bank is hiring more staff as it expands across the continent and sees a pick-up in advisory work.

“Corporate banking is going nicely but slowly and investment banking is doing very nicely,” Stephen van Coller, the chief executive of the unit, said.

Investment banking was helped after markets stabilised in the second quarter, said Van Coller, who took over the unit in 2010 and manages 2 500 staff in South Africa and 10 other countries on the continent. Capital raising and mergers and acquisitions were picking up, said Van Coller, whose team is advising Steinhoff International on its secondary listing on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

Barclays Africa’s investment bank is ranked second after Morgan Stanley in equity issuance this year and third for debt, Bloomberg data show.

Van Coller said in May that Africa would not be affected by Barclays’s plan to cut a quarter of employees at its investment bank. Antony Jenkins, who took over as chief executive from Bob Diamond in 2012, said Barclays would place more focus on the continent as one of the UK bank’s less capital-intensive businesses.

“Chairman David Walker is very supportive,” Van Coller said. “Board members come and visit us – that never used to happen.”

Barclays, which bought a controlling stake in what was Absa in 2005, last year sold the bulk of its African operations to its South African business and increased its stake to 62.3 percent.

“In Africa we didn’t have legacy issues so we’ve been building a new business,” Van Coller said. Access to the technology, including e-commerce, trading and treasury systems, of its London-based parent made the bank more competitive on the continent against Citigroup, Standard Chartered and Standard Bank, he said.

Shares in Barclays Africa Group dropped 0.92 percent to close trade at R161.50 on the JSE yesterday. The stock has gained 23 percent this year, making it the best performer on the seven-member FTSE/JSE Africa Banks index. – Bloomberg


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