Following its consolidation in mature markets, the British banking group, Barclays, has turned its sight on emerging markets with Nigeria as a major target.
THISDAY learnt that a team from Barclays will be arriving Nigeria soon to open up and continue discussions with a number of Nigerian banks the British banks may be keen on acquiring.
According to findings, the local banks it has set its sight on include Union Bank of Nigeria Plc due to legacy issues. Barclays used to own Union Bank until the Indigenisation Decree of 1970 forced it to leave the country and relinquish its stake in the bank.
However, THISDAY learnt that owing to the challenges Union Bank has encountered in recent years which led to the intervention by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) in 2009 and 2010, respectively, Barclays might not be that interested in investing in Union Bank despite their history together.
Nevertheless, industry sources said other banks in which Barclays might make a play include Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (GTBank) because of the Nigerian bank’s track record.
GTBank has maintained a relatively clean track record and has grown organically to become one of Nigeria’s largest banks.
Its listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) means that the bank has been subjected to much more rigorous scrutiny by authorities in the United Kingdom than its peers in the Nigerian market.
Its foreign listing also saw it become one of the first banks in the country to switch to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and all these, said an industry analyst, have made it the darling of foreign investors trying to enter the Nigerian market.
Also, THISDAY learnt that Barclays might also be interested in Enterprise Bank Limited.
But when contacted on the development, the Managing Director, AMCON, Mr. Mustapha Chike-Obi, whose institution owns 100 per cent of Enterprise Bank, said: “I don’t know for now if Barclays is one of them. But I know about 22 firms have expressed interest in the bank.
“The process is being handled by the financial advisers and they will let us know at the appropriate time.”
The Chief Executive Officer, Barclays, Antony Jenkins recently said the bank would cautiously work to strengthen its operations in Nigeria.
He had explained: “We have a representative office there (Nigeria). We do some business in Nigeria and we are going to grow that business and I think quite cautiously over time, and then we will see what opportunities present themselves.
“Obviously in the medium term, we would like to have a bigger presence there but we are not going to make some big inorganic play which would be very expensive.
“We have a unique footprint from the African continent and so bringing our corporate customers to Africa is going to be a very important strategic focus for us and that’s the unique advantage of Barclays because we have got a global footprint and we have got the presence.”