Absa minority shareholders back Barclays Africa deal

JOHANNESBURG Mon Feb 25, 2013 8:47am GMT

A woman walks past a branch of South Africa's biggest retail bank, Absa, in Cape Town, December 6, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

A woman walks past a branch of South Africa's biggest retail bank, Absa, in Cape Town, December 6, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Hutchings

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Minority shareholders of South Africa's Absa Group ASAJ.J on Monday overwhelmingly backed a plan to buy the African operations of parent Barclays Plc (BARC.L) for $2.1 billion (1.3 billion pounds) in new shares.

The deal, although dilutive to minority shareholders, is expected to give Absa greater exposure to fast-growing African markets.

The two banks will merge the bulk of their African businesses outside of South Africa, with Barclays relinquishing direct control of eight of its operations on the continent in exchange for 129.5 million new shares in Absa.

The 18.3 billion rand deal will increase Barclays' stake in Absa, South Africa's third-largest bank by market value, to 62.3 percent from 55.5 percent.

Barclays had previously blocked ambitions by its subsidiary to spread further north, citing conflict of interests.

Shares of Absa were up 1.1 percent at 163.90 rand at 0840 GMT.

(Reporting by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura; writing by David Dolan)

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