End of an era: Exit Barclays, enter Absa

Absa Bank Kenya Managing Director Jeremy Awori (right) shares a cake with customers at the Sarit Centre branch in Nairobi during the official unveiling of the Absa brand in Kenya yesterday.

Barclays Bank has ended its century-old expedition in the Kenyan market after it changed its brand name to Absa Bank yesterday.

The Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) has since temporarily suspended trading of Barclays shares to allow for completion of the transition.

The lender said it had received regulatory approvals to change its name to Absa Bank Kenya Plc.

“Today we begin a new chapter as Absa Bank Kenya… we will be engaging stakeholders in the coming days to celebrate the successful launch of the Absa brand,” said Managing Director Jeremy Awori.

In an update to shareholders and the public, the bank advised stakeholders they will now be dealing with the Absa brand. “All contractual relationships and obligations that the bank has with its customers, partners, and other stakeholders are not affected by this change of name,” said the Board in a notice published in the dailies yesterday.

This follows the acquisition of Barclays Plc operations in Africa in 2017 by Absa Bank of South Africa in restructuring by the London-based lender.

NSE said the temporary suspension of the trading of Barclays Bank shares from the boss would last until “the settlement of all outstanding obligations”.

“The temporary halt will take place on Monday, 10th February 2020 and is line with clause 9.4.2 of the NSE Equities Trading Rules,” said NSE in a statement. News of Barclays’ exit from the African market first broke out in mid-2017 after it emerged that Barclays Africa Group had sold a significant stake to Absa Group Ltd. But the transition has not been without hiccups, including declining profitability.

In its 2017 full-year results, Barclays posted a 6.4 per cent drop in profit to Sh6.9 billion from Sh7.3 billion in 2016 on the back of a harsh operating environment.

Kenya is no stranger to rebrands, having recently witnessed the change of names in several banks in the last five years, where K Rep Bank rebranded to Sidian Bank in 2016 after Centum Investment Company completed the acquisition of a majority stake in the bank.

In the same year, Equatorial Commercial Bank also rebranded to Spire Bank, while Oriental Bank changed its name to M-Orient Bank.

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