Barclays Investment Bank Hires in Africa as Mergers Pick Up

Barclays Plc’s African investment bank said it’s hiring more staff as it expands across the continent and sees a pick up in advisory work.

“Corporate banking is going nicely but slowly and investment banking is doing very nicely,” Stephen van Coller, chief executive officer of the unit, said in an interview in Johannesburg on June 27.

Investment banking was helped after markets stabilized in the second quarter, said Van Coller, who took over the unit in 2010 and manages more than 2,500 staff in South Africa and 10 other countries on the continent. Capital raising and mergers and acquisitions are picking up, said Van Coller, whose team is advising Steinhoff International Holdings Ltd. on its secondary listing on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

Barclays Africa Group Ltd.’s investment bank is ranked second after Morgan Stanley in equity issuance this year and third for debt, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Van Coller said in May that Africa won’t be affected by Barclays’s plan to cut a quarter of employees at its investment bank. Antony Jenkins, who took over as CEO from Bob Diamond in 2012, said Barclays will place more focus on the continent as one of the British bank’s less capital-intensive businesses.

“Chairman David Walker is very supportive,” said Van Coller. “Board members come and visit us -- that never used to happen.”

Building Business

Barclays, which bought a controlling stake in what was Absa Group Ltd. in 2005, last year sold the bulk of its African operations to its South African business and increased its stake to 62.3 percent.

“In Africa we didn’t have legacy issues so we’ve been building a new business,” Van Coller said. Access to the technology, including e-commerce, trading and treasury systems, of its London-based parent makes the bank more competitive on the continent against Citigroup Inc., Standard Chartered Plc and Standard Bank Group Ltd., he said.

Barclays Africa shares dropped 0.9 percent to 161.50 rand by the close in Johannesburg. The stock has gained 22 percent this year, making it the best performer on the seven-member FTSE/JSE Africa Banks Index.

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