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Barclays considers scaling back in Africa – FT

New Barclays chief executive Jes Staley is considering selling some or all of the British bank’s African operations as part of his strategic review, the Financial Times said.

Staley has raised questions about the strategic fit of the large African business with the rest of Barclays, but no decision has been taken yet, the FT said yesterday, citing people familiar with the matter. Barclays declined to comment.

Staley, who took over as CEO two weeks ago, is expected to review all parts of Barclays’ businesses and outline his plans around the time of the annual results on March 1.

Barclays has been present in Africa for more than 100 years and has said the continent offers good growth options, despite lacklustre returns in recent years. The Africa business had £36 billion of assets on a risk-adjusted basis and made a profit of £791 million in the first nine months of this year, or 13 per cent of the bank’s core profits.

The FT said Staley’s review came after investor confidence in South Africa was shaken by President Jacob Zuma’s decision to change his Finance Minister twice in less than a week at a time when the economy is under severe stress.

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