Barclays Africa Group Limited (BAGL) is embarking on a re-branding exercise following Barclays PLC sell-down of shares on the African operations and this will see Barclays’ operations in the continent renamed Absa Group Limited and trade as Absa. BAGL CEO Maria Ramos revealed on Thursday when announcing the 2017 financial year results. The name change is subject to pending shareholder and regulatory approvals with the bank set to hold its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in May this year where the issue will form part of the agenda. The rebranding exercise, which will also affect Barclays Bank Botswana, is expected to be rolled out in June this year when all Barclays branches will be renamed Absa. “The sell-down gave us an opportunity to roll out a brand that reflects our identity in Africa and to unite our operations in 10 countries behind one name,” she said. The change in the Barclays trade name follows a decision made by the then majority shareholder, Barclays PLC to sell down its investment in the African operations with London based bank now owning about 14.9 percent from over 60 percent shareholding previously held. Ramos says this gave BAGL an opportunity to determine a completely new direction. “These changes require the approval of regulators in each of our markets to change the name and trading brand for each of our businesses outside of South Africa, but early discussions have been very positive,” Ramos said during a teleconference. The group has the right to retain the Barclays brand in Africa for the next two years, but Ramos said they want to move things at a faster pace, with June in mind to start rolling out the new brand which will be re-launched and re-presented with an identity fit for the modern, new and forward-looking businesses that the group is creating. The Barclays transformation will be delivered in three stages, the first being separation and adaption of the future. BAGL chief executive said this will be a critical period in which the group will need to complete its separation from plc, build and scale new capabilities and rebuilding organisational and cultural foundations to capture growth. The second phase will involve delivering a new client value proposition with tangible changes in customer experience. “In this period, we will stretch ourselves to develop the platform for double-digit growth and build momentum to accelerate delivery,” said Ramos. During the third and last phase, Ramos said at this point the bank would have achieved leadership positions in its core businesses while also expanding into new markets which will allow it to deliver double-digit growth.
BAGL has announced a four percent increase in headline earnings in 2017 to R15.6 billion as impairments declined by 20 percent from 2016. Headline earnings, which are used to gauge profitability, are said to have grown despite the continued slow economic expansion in some of the group’s largest markets, including South Africa, where the group generates majority of the income. The banking group, which is one of the largest in the continent, saw its income go up by 1 percent to R72.9 billion while the balance sheet stood at R1.2 trillion, with strong capital and liquidity levels. The majority of BAGL’s income comes mainly from the South African market which contributes about 75 percent to the group while the remaining 25 percent is spread across the remaining nine countries, including Barclays Bank Botswana. The group increased its dividend by 4 percent to 1,070 cents per share.