Barclays plans to exit African operations to restore battered reputation

Barclays plans to exit African operations to restore battered reputation
Logos are seen outside a branch of Barclays bank in London July 30, 2013. Barclays is raising 5.8 billion pounds ($8.9 billion) from its shareholders to help plug a larger-than-expected capital shortfall identified by Britain's financial regulator at the 320-year-old bank. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN - Tags: BUSINESS) - RTX124QN

London: Barclays on Tuesday revealed a further shake-up of the beleaguered bank, unveiling plans to exit its African operations, as it seeks to restore its battered reputation under new leadership.

In a sign that Barclays remains mired in problems, the British lender announced that net losses had more than doubled last year. The bank also said it was looking into “suspected money laundering related to foreign exchange transactions in South African operation Absa Bank Limited”.

The lender, struggling to recover from several scandals, said it would split the bank into two units, focusing on its operations in Britain and the United States. It comes as Barclays revealed annual losses after tax of 394 million.

The 2015 net loss, compared to one of 174 million a year earlier, was largely the result of money set aside to compensate customers mis-sold a controversial British insurance product known as PPI. After announcing in January plans to exit Russia, Barclays on Tuesday said it would reduce its majority stake in the group’s African unit.

“At the heart of… strategy is to build on our strength as a transatlantic consumer, corporate and investment bank anchored in the two financial centres of the world, London and New York,” Barclays said in a statement.

It said it planned to split the company to form Barclays UK as well as Barclays Corporate and International. Barclays added: “We are today announcing our intention to sell down our 62.3% interest in our African business, BAGL, over the coming two to three years.”

Barclays Africa Group Limited insisted however that it remained committed to the continent. “Our destiny is Africa,” BAGL chief executive Maria Ramos told a press conference in Johannesburg.