Johannesburg – UK banker is reportedly looking to sell all or some of its R72 billion Absa stake in the aftermath of the turmoil that rocked SA markets this and last week.

This is according to the Financial Times, which reported the move comes in the wake of newly-appointed CEO Jes Staley’s review of its operations.

Citing sources, the London publication said Staley has raised questions about the strategic fit of the UK-based bank’s African business with the rest of the group. It says no decision has been taken yet, while noting Barclays declined to officially comment.

The move would see Barclays break with almost 100 years of history, it says.

Barclays has not issued an official announcement to shareholders, and neither has Absa, which is now known as Barclays Africa after it and Barclay’s other operations on the continent merged.

The news come on the back of President Jacob Zuma’s shuffling of SA’s finance minister twice in under a week. Last Wednesday, Nhlanhla Nene was booted and replaced with relative unknown, David van Rooyen.

This move sent the rand to historic lows, and it broke through R16 to the dollar last Friday.

Following outrage, Zuma then replaced Van Rooyen with Pravin Gordhan, who had previously run National treasury.

Zuma’s shuffling came just days after Fitch downgraded SA to a notch above junk status.

Staley took over as CEO of Barclays in December after chairman John McFarlane fired Antony Jenkins as CEO earlier this year.

Barclays owns 62 percent of Barclays Africa and its stake is worth around R72 billion. The FT says one potentially interested party is Atlas Mara, the acquisition vehicle set up by former Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond to buy African lenders.

Bloomberg notes Barclays is focusing on its most profitable UK and US businesses.

Barclays’ Africa business had a pretax profit of 251 million pounds ($377 million) in the third quarter, down from 272 million pounds a year earlier. The operation had assets of 52.2 billion pounds and a return on average equity, a measure of profitability, of 9.7 percent.

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