Barclays’ crown jewel sparkles brighter

Ofong giving answers regarding Barclays. PIC: KAGISO ONKATSWITSE
Ofong giving answers regarding Barclays. PIC: KAGISO ONKATSWITSE

One of Barclays Africa’s fastest growing units on the continent, Corporate and Investment Banking, has identified Botswana as one of its growth areas going forward. Temisan Ofong, Corporate and Investment Banking Africa chief executive, speaks to Mmegi’s MBONGENI MGUNI on the rising star within the pan-African group

Mmegi: What value of business in terms of assets did the portfolio generate across Africa last year?

Ofong: We are in a closed period at the moment and I cannot share those figures. What I can say, however, is that over the last two years, we have been growing our assets by more than 30 percent on a compound basis and this is something that we want to continue, going into the new financial year.

 Mmegi:  In which markets are you seeing growth within Corporate and Investment Banking (CIB) in Africa?

Ofong: In Africa, we have identified a number of key markets such as Ghana, Egypt, Kenya, Zambia, Mauritius, Mozambique, and Botswana. We feel these are the markets that offer the right quality of growth potential. The interesting thing is that it’s not only about focusing on these. In fact, every country in the network is important to us and we have organised our business so that all country get the right amount of input, support, product development and others.  Some of our clients will want us to be in Seychelles, for instance, which is not big, but it’s important for us to be there.

 Mmegi: Which services according  to CIB will make money this year? What sort of banking will be most profitable this year?

Ofong: Our focus is on our clients and as a large CIB unit, our clients require us to provide them with certain services across the network. Within Africa Corporate Banking represents 70 percent of the wallet that is out there and building that is critical for our clients. This entails loans, foreign exchange, cash management, trade finance and so on. It’s one of the big focus areas. However, we are driven by what our clients want.

 Mmegi: Is CIB going to enter Nigeria this year and if so, how and has it applied for a licence yet?

Ofong: We have an ongoing strategy to expand our footprint and we have formally engaged with the authorities in Nigeria to apply for licences. Today, on the ground, we have a representative office that we have beefed up with 20 people in the last few months. These include investment brokers and a trade finance team of four people out of Lagos. This is clearly the biggest economy in Africa and we have to be present. We are looking forward to doing so in the not too distant future. It’s always difficult to put timelines on these matters when you are dealing with regulatory approval, but the sooner the better. It could take 12 months, longer or shorter but there is a process that we have to abide by.

 Mmegi: Is CIB still hiring in Africa?

Ofong: We are hiring but it’s important to understand the type that we are doing. In some areas that we don’t have a presence like a country or a product, we are hiring. We are looking at augmenting our existing teams on the ground to scale up for the opportunities that we see.

 We are being very prudent about it and we are focused on making sure all our investments have the right business cases that deliver the right returns to our clients. CIB has about 3,000 employees across Africa and about a half or two-thirds are in South Africa.

Mmegi: Is CIB working on any IPOs or debt sales in Africa?

Ofong:  Both of those are business lines that we are very heavily involved in across the different countries. In Nigeria, we just completed the sale of Mainstreet Bank, which was one of the distressed banks that the government there took over. We have also been shortlisted for an IPO in Nigeria.   We are busy in South Africa as well and are active in the equity markets and on the debt side. Last year, Barclays was the leading arranger of sovereign bond issues in Africa.

 Mmegi: What is the 2015 strategy?

Ofong: Our strategy is to deliver the right returns to our shareholders by being client-centric. This is about providing them with the right products and services to help them achieve their ambitions. This year, however, is not about strategy. It’s about making sure that we are focused on executing this strategy and setting ourselves up for success.

 Mmegi: Earlier you said Botswana was one of the growth nodes for you in Africa. Which sectors do you see opportunities in?

Ofong: The public sector and resource sector are an interesting opportunity. Diamonds are attractive to us and are in our strategy. We are also interested in infrastructure and telecommunications.  Our aim is that we must be relevant in the country and be participating in the growth engines of the country’s economy.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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