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Barclays’s Absa Hires JPMorgan’s Barrass, Ex-FirstRand Banker

Absa Group Ltd. (ASA), the South African lender controlled by Barclays Plc (BARC), said it hired Jason Barrass and Theunie Lategan to strengthen its corporate and investment- banking operations.

Barrass, who was a global trade sales executive at JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), will start on April 22 as the Africa head of trade for Absa’s investment-banking arm, Johannesburg-based Absa Capital said in an e-mailed statement today. Lategan, 56, took over as the investment bank’s vice chairman of corporate banking this year, having previously been the head of Africa and emerging markets for FirstRand Ltd. (FSR), South Africa’s second- largest financial-services firm.

Absa, which Barclays bought control of in 2005, has said it wants to improve its corporate-banking services and add clients. With the two lenders integrating most of their assets across Africa, the investment-banking unit has been building a coverage team and taking on more corporate clients to boost profit.

“Corporate banking is an arms race,” Temi Ofong, head of corporate banking for Absa Capital, said in an interview on April 5. “You need heavy research and development in technology and you need to segment the competition. Clients are struggling with Africa and want a one-stop shop with a bank they can trust.”

Absa has dropped 7 percent this year, the most of South Africa’s four largest banks, while Barclays has gained almost 9 percent to trade 2.9 percent higher at 285.1 pence as of 11:32 a.m. in London today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Renee Bonorchis in Johannesburg at rbonorchis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net

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