File photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi

Johannesburg - Absa investors voted to approve the South African bank’s $2.1 billion all-share offer for most of Barclays Plc’s Africa assets.

Absa offered on December 6 to issue 129.5 million shares to parent company Barclays as part of an agreement to fold most of the UK lender’s African operations into Johannesburg-based Absa.

Absa will be renamed Barclays Africa and Barclays’s stake in the bank will rise to 62.3 percent from 55.5 percent now.

Absa and Barclays, seeking to boost profit by combining products and customer bases across a continent with faster growth rates than that of developed regions, needed 50 percent plus one vote from investors for the deal to go ahead.

More than 97 percent of shareholders, excluding Barclays, voted in favour today.

The transaction is still subject to approval from regulators, including South Africa’s Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan.

The approval marks “the birth of a pan-African banking giant,” Absa chairman Garth Griffin told shareholders at the general meeting in Johannesburg.

Absa investors, including Africa’s largest pension fund, had questioned the bank’s all-share offer, saying the lender should use its cash surplus to help finance the deal.

Using cash would have increased the cost of the transaction, Maria Ramos, chief executive officer of Absa, said in an interview on February 12. - Bloomberg News