Barclays, Absa Face Africa Deal Delays on Regulatory Process

Absa Group Ltd., the South African bank buying the bulk of Barclays Plc’s African assets, said the transaction’s initial timetable no longer applies.

“While good progress continues to be made, the indicative corporate actions timetable in the circular is no longer applicable,” Johannesburg-based Absa said in the statement today, saying the deal remains subject to regulatory approvals. “It is still expected that the transaction will be completed within the dates allowed for under the sale and purchase agreement,” the company said, adding that it will publish a revised timetable later.

According a timetable dated Dec. 14, information about Absa’s name change was to be published today, with the lender to be renamed Barclays Africa Group Ltd. on April 15. Absa investors in February approved the 18.3 billion-rand ($2 billion) all-share offer for most of Barclays’s African assets, which would have also increased the London-based bank’s stake in Absa to 62.3 percent from 55.5 percent.

“You need to have dates to work to, but all transactions meet with challenges -- it’s not terminal,” Temi Ofong, head of corporate banking for Absa’s investment unit across Africa, said in an interview today. “There’s a lot of complexity and each of the African countries have different rules that govern these transactions. As a firm we’ve been integrating for years so we don’t expect the delays to impact us.”

If regulatory approvals across more than 10 jurisdictions aren’t obtained by June 6, Absa or Barclays may terminate the deal, according to the Dec. 14 notice, unless both parties agree to extend the closing date by a maximum of 90 days.

Barclays dropped 1.6 percent to 280.35 pence as of 11:10 a.m. in London trading, while Absa climbed 1.1 percent to 151.76 rand in Johannesburg.

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