Now South Africa pension fund said eyeing Barclays Africa

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A pension fund manager owned by South Africa’s government is reported to be “considering putting together a consortium of black investors, to take a controlling stake in Barclays Africa”, the Financial Times is reporting today.

The Public Investment Corp, which the FT notes is South Africa’s “most powerful and influential investor”, already owns a  7.3% stake in Barclays Africa Group Ltd (BAGL), following a “bookbuilding earlier this month”.

The FT quotes Dan Matjila, chief executive of PIC, as saying that Barclays’ decision to sell its Johannesburg-based African subsidiary had given the fund manager the “best opportunity for us to create a black-controlled bank”.

“I don’t want to go public on the details, but the idea should be black investors clubbing together to buy a reasoable share, and we will be part of that to create the first black-controlled bank. That would be most desirable — we are not there yet,” Matjila added, according to the FT. 

The publication said the fund manager could seek to promote “black economic empowerment” in South Africa by offering shares in Barclays Africa — were its plans to acquire the Barclays’ stake to go through — to the 1.2 million members of the Government Employees Pension Fund, on whose behalf the PIC invests.its

In revealing its interest in acquiring Barclay’s 62% stake in BAGL becomes the latest in a growing number of major entities said to be eyeing the entity.  Others, as reported, have included former Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond’s Atlas Merchant Capital, in partnership with the Mara Group and US private equity giant Carlyle.

Barclays  formally announced on 1 March that it would be seeking to sell its stake in BAGL, which is listed in Johannesburg, as part of its global efforts to simplify its business model, at a time when mounting regulatory pressures are making far-flung global operations increasingly unsustainable.

Along with South Africa, BAGL has subsidiary operations in Kenya, Botswana, Ghana, Zambia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Uganda and Tanzania.

The Public Investment Corp was founded in 1911 and has around US$117bn under management.