By Lawrence White
LONDON – A consortium including former Barclays chief Bob Diamond remains in the hunt to buy a stake in the British lender’s African business, sources with knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday, despite the withdrawal of Carlyle Group.
Diamond is looking to acquire Barclays’ remaining 50 percent stake in Barclays Africa Group Limited via his investment vehicle Atlas Merchant Capital, following the British lender’s decision in March to sell down its holding in the African unit.
The consortium comprises a group of “committed long-term strategic investors”, Diamond said in April, and the sources said Carlyle’s exit from the group would not jeopardise its interest in pursuing the acquisition.
Carlyle’s withdrawal from the consortium is related to the departure in May of the private equity group’s financial services head Olivier Sarkozy, the sources said.
Carlyle declined to comment. Barclays declined to comment.
As well as trying to find a buyer for the Africa business, Barclays retains the option to sell its shares in Barclays Africa in chunks via a so-called accelerated bookbuild, or in the open market via the Johannesburg stock exchange.
Barclays sold a 12.2 percent stake in its Africa unit on May 4, as part of a plan to deconsolidate the holding from its accounts by reducing it to below 20 percent by March 2019.
The bank is able to launch another similar selldown following the expiry in August of a 90-day lockup period after the May transaction, but sources close to Barclays said the bank is in no hurry to complete the sale this year.
Bankers at the time said the May share sale drew strong interest, with the order book 3.5 times oversubscribed, in an indication of investor interest in the Barclays Africa business.
South Africa, where Barclays Africa makes the bulk of its revenues, ended fears of a recession in the second quarter as the mining and manufacturing sectors reversed sharp contractions due to an uptick in exports.
Barclays Africa shares were trading at 147 rand on Tuesday, well above the 126 rand at which Barclays sold its initial stake in May.(Reuters)