(Updates with details and shareholder comment, starting in second paragraph.)
Oct. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Absa Group Ltd., Barclays Plc’s South African bank, combined its retail and business divisions to boost efficiency and named a joint committee with its British parent to oversee growth in Africa.
Bobby Malabie, head of Absa business banking, will lead the combined unit, Chief Executive Officer Maria Ramos said in an e- mailed statement today, while Gavin Opperman, the previous retail chief, has resigned. Absa also granted some executives pan-African responsibilities.
The Africa committee will be composed of managers from both Absa and Barclays, which owns 56 percent of the Johannesburg- based lender after buying a controlling stake in 2005. The move may be a step toward Absa acquiring Barclays’ other African units, said Patrice Rassou of Sanlam Investment Management. The joint retail and business arm mirrors the structure used by smaller rival Nedbank Group Ltd. to cut costs.
“I think the changes will make Absa’s business more efficient,” said Rassou, who who helps manage about 330 billion rand ($41 billion) in Cape Town. Sanlam holds Absa shares.
Barclays and Absa are working to increase profit as African growth outpaces developed economies. London-based Barclays’ regional office in charge of Africa is moving from Dubai to Johannesburg, with the relocation expected to be complete by the end of December, Absa said.
Chief Financial Officer David Hodnett and Stephen van Coller, who heads the Absa Capital investment bank, will expand their responsibilities to include all African operations, Absa said. Standard Bank Group Ltd., Africa’s largest lender, has also promoted managers to head pan-continental units rather than focus on South Africa alone.
The Africa committee will include Ramos, van Coller and Absa deputy CEO Louis von Zeuner, as well as Barclays Africa’s David Skillen and Philip Freeborn, chief operating and integration officer for Africa.
Among other appointments announced today, Willie Lategan was named to head Absa’s so-called bancassurance business for Africa and will also join the African executive committee. Nomkhita Nqweni, chief of Absa’s wealth-management unit, will join the bank’s executive committee.
--Editors: Keith Campbell, Steve Bailey.
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