BARCLAYS Bank Zambia managing director Mizinga Melu has said the pending re-naming of Barclays Africa Group Limited to Absa Group Limited does not mean the bank will pull out of Zambia.
On Thursday afternoon, Barclays Africa Group chief executive officer Mario Ramos outlined the Group’s growth strategy in a tele-conference from South Africa.
Among those growth strategies she talked about include the Group’s clear ambition to double its market share to 12 per cent of African banking revenues, restore market-leading position in core business areas, sustainable growth to be driven by a transformative culture and re-branding.
And speaking to journalists at Barclays Bank Zambia head office in Lusaka shortly after Ramos’ tele-conference, Melu said the re-naming of the Group was a great occasion because “this is when we start a new journey to announce what we will and who we will be known across the continent.”
“The first thing to note is that Barclays has been our major shareholder for over 100 years now. But as at today, Barclays has reduced its shareholding to 14.9 per cent and they are now minority shareholders. What that effectively means is that as Barclays, as we are known now, there are no majority shareholders but just minority shareholders. As we announce this, it’s important to note that we’ll be changing our name across the continent – we’ll have one name and one brand and that brand will be called Absa,” Melu said.
“It is important to note that we are in 10 markets across the continent, including [in] South Africa where we are known as Barclays Africa Group Limited. We’ll be changing that name to Absa Group Limited.”
She added that it was, however, important to note that Barclays would not change its name immediately.
“We’ll continue to use the name Barclays – we’ll not change immediately. But we’ll be changing it between now and the year 2020. We are at liberty to change it between now and the year 2020 – we are not changing it now. When we are ready to make the change here in Zambia, we’ll call you and be able to let you know. Right now we continue to use the name Barclays but what we are doing now is to announce the intention that we’ll be called Absa. I say our intention because there a number of regulatory approvals that need to be in place before we can finally say we are now changing the name,” Melu said, adding that Barclays was currently working very closely with the Bank of Zambia and a number of its shareholders in order to get an approval for re-branding.
“We are looking at our vision and say how ‘do we make Africa proud’ by having the bank of the future which is Absa, that will make Africa truly proud.”
Asked if re-branding would not see the bank leave Zambia, Melu clarified that: “We are extremely committed to Zambia and we are definitely not pulling out at all.”
And speaking at a Chinese New Year dinner the bank hosted at Hotel InterContinental in Lusaka on Wednesday night, Melu said the bank took its Chinese clients seriously.
“…In 2013, Africa-China trade reached a record high of US $210 billion. Zambia remains a pivotal partner to China and when you look at the trade for last year, it was US $3.4 billion dollar and the statistics are telling us that this is destined to grow,” said Melu.
And Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Yang Youming says Zambia and China were better placed for closer cooperation in the financial sector.
“We have been undertaking a number of key economic projects including hydropower stations, airports, hospitals, roads and they are making good progress. China-Zambia relationship has now entered into a new development period and I believe its full potential will increase in the coming years. In my view, China-Zambia are better placed for closer cooperation in the financial sector compared with other African countries,” said Ambassador Yang.
The Lunar Year celebration, themed ‘Year of the Dog’ was attended by representatives from Chinese companies and the Chinese community in Zambia, among other stakeholders.