Barclays delays Bank Windhoek bid until Absa merger is completed

Banks not helping small businesses

UK financial group Barclays plc (LON:BARC) said it had put off its bid to acquire a controlling stake in Namibia’s Bank Windhoek Ltd from financial services group Capricorn Investment Holdings Ltd until it finalised the merger of its African business with its unit Absa Group Ltd.

Namibia’s central bank gave the green light to the potential acquisition in June, after it had previously prevented Absa from buying at least 70% in Bank Windhoek over concerns about foreign dominance. The value of the proposed deal was not determined then. If successful, the purchase of Bank Windhoek’s stake would mark the British lender’s first step in the south-western African country.

Barclays Bank plc, part of Barclays, said on 21 August that it was in negotiations about a possible combination of most of its African operations with Absa. The proposal concerns the lender’s assets in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and the Indian Ocean.

The operations have a combined workforce of some 8,000 people, a network of more than 400 branches and 750 ATMs serving some 2.2m customers. As at December 2011, the businesses concerned had total assets of around GBP6bn (USD9.7bn/EUR7.4bn).

Barclays Bank said previously that the success of the talks could not be guaranteed. If approved, the combination is seen to be completed no earlier than 2013. As part of the plan, Barclays Bank will remain a majority shareholder of the combined African operations and the listing of its subsidiaries in Kenya and Botswana will be preserved.

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