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Barclays Africa Attracts Bid from Abraaj for Stake Sale

Barclays PLC’s BCS African division has attracted the attention of Dubai-based private equity firm, The Abraaj Group. The equity firm along with other investors including a Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund plans to bid for a minority stake of approximately 35% in Barclays Africa, according to people familiar with the matter. This news was first reported by Bloomberg.

The current value of this stake is likely to be nearly $2.6 billion. Nevertheless, the talks are still at a nascent stage with chances of falling apart.

While Abraaj is showing interest in Barclays Africa, South Africa’s central bank is against a full takeover of the unit by a private equity bidder. Earlier this month, Deputy Reserve Bank Governor Kuben Naidoo said, “As a regulator we won’t be comfortable with a private equity play for any of the banks.”

Earlier this month, Barclays had reduced its stake in Barclays Africa Group. The U.K. based bank sold roughly 12.2% interest (103.6 million shares of Barclays Africa) for over ZAR13 billion ($874.1 million) to approximately 100 institutions lowering its stake to nearly 50.1%. Notably, Barclays is, however, restricted from selling further stake in Africa unit by a 90-day lock-up period.

Apart from Abraaj, Barclays Africa unit attracted attention from several potential buyers. Barclays’ former CEO Bob Diamond is interested in the unit, as his company – Altas Merchant Capital venture – has joined forces with The Carlyle Group LP CG and other investors to bid for the Africa unit.

Notably,in Mar 2016, Barclays had announced its plan to divest its stake in the Africa unit. Barclays Africa was moved to discontinued operation as it fulfilled the requirements for the same. Barclays plans to lower its stake to below 20% and intends to keep a minority interest in the unit.

Barclays is speeding up efforts to sell or close its noncore operations and this will surely strengthen its balance sheet and improve overall efficiency.

Currently, Barclays carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Other foreign banks worth a look include Grupo Financiero Galicia S.A. GGAL and Shinhan Financial Group Company Limited SHG. Both these stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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BARCLAY PLC-ADR (BCS): Free Stock Analysis Report
SHINHAN FIN-ADR (SHG): Free Stock Analysis Report
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CARLYLE GROUP (CG): Free Stock Analysis Report
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