Barclays Africa changed its name back to ABSA, in a rebranding aimed at underlining its South African roots as the British bank gradually retreats from the continent.
The name change comes almost a year after Barclays sold most of its controlling stake in ABSA, South Africa’s third-largest lender, ending more than a century of the British bank’s involvement in Africa to focus on its home market and the United States.
“Today we celebrate an important milestone in our pursuit of our vision to create a banking group that Africa can truly be proud of,” Absa Chief Executive Maria Ramos said at an event in Johannesburg. “Our new name and brand are an expression of our new purpose and strategic direction, which commits us to growing in Africa.”
ABSA was originally an acronym for Amalgamated Banks of South Africa. It was formed in 1991 through the merger of several South African banks including Volkskas Bank, a financial services conglomerate founded in the 1930s to mobilise the economic power of Afrikaners, white South Africans of mainly Dutch descent who ruled under apartheid.
Barclays bought a majority stake in Absa in 2005, but reduced its holding last year from 62 percent to 15 percent by selling shares to large investors, including South Africa’s Public Investment Corporation.