PHOTO: Supplied by Absa Group.
PHOTO: Supplied by Absa Group.

Absa rebranding goes into full swing

By Edward West Time of article published Feb 5, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - ABSA Corporate and Investment Banking (CIB) faces a pivotal year when its branding and operations take root in many African markets that were once served by the bank’s previous parent Barclays. Chief executive Charles Russon told Business Report on the sidelines of the Mining Indaba in Cape Town yesterday that all the banking operations were expected to be rebranded under the Absa brand by the end of this month.

Russon said the CIB was working to re-establish “connectivity,” replace systems and build its physical presence in these African markets.

He said the CIB had invested in new, world-class technology and systems in these African countries, and this, together with “deep relationships with our clients,” should give it the competitive edge it needs to become a leading pan-African corporate investment bank, he said.

“There are many country specific institutions, but there are not many other banks that can play across the continent like we can,” he said.

The CIB has grown in double digits for six years and accounts for 35 to 40percent of Absa group profits. Before the split from Barclays in 2017, it worked mainly in South Africa with the global bank to service corporate and investment banking customers in other African markets, where the Barclays brand was well entrenched with a presence of up to 100 years in some countries. Absa CIB operates in 12 other African countries, apart from South Africa.

Russon said the rebranding had already taken place in Mozambique and Uganda, and would take place from February 10 in countries that include Seychelles, Malawi, Botswana, Zambia, Kenya, Ghana and Tanzania. In most of these countries, a full suite of banking services will be provided, such as retail banking services and corporate and investment banking.

Some 15percent of CIB’s business is from customers in developed countries investing in Africa, and offices had been established in London. One was expected to be opened in New York this year, and the feasibility of an office in China was being considered, he said.

A memorandum of understanding was also signed with Société Gé* érale Group a year ago. Absa CIB and the international banking group now operate in 28 African countries, with an overlap of business in only two countries. “They are in the Francophone countries in Africa and we are in English-speaking African countries. There is real value and opportunity, even though we are separate organisations,” said Russon.

Absa CIB’s business in Africa tends to focus on the mining, infrastructure and energy, agriculture and consumer retail sectors. Absa had provided some 43percent of the financing of renewable energy projects in South Africa over the past few years, and had built considerable expertise in the sector, he said.

From Absa Group’s perspective, diversification into Africa is key to its growth. South Africa is its most challenging market at present, as gross domestic product (GDP) growth is very low, with additional risk to the outlook from load-shedding. “The GDP growth is different in other African countries where we operate. Countries face various challenges, but we will be there with our clients,” Russon said.


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