Free from the shackles imposed during its 13-year ownership by Barclays plc, Absa’s largest operating division by profits is determined to recover market share lost to competitors. While the acquisition of Absa by Barclays in 2005 was at the time fêted as a massive vote of confidence in the country, the operational constraints imposed by the parent led to the loss in market leadership in home loans and credit cards to rivals such as Standard Bank, the country’s biggest lender. “With Barclays not being the majority shareholder anymore, the focus has now shifted strongly to growth with the right returns. We want to be the leading retail and business banking franchise in the country, and we believe we have the strength to do so,” says Arrie Rautenbach, chief executive of Absa’s retail and business bank in an exclusive interview with Business Day. The unit dwarfs Absa’s three other operating divisions and accounted for over half of headline earnings for the six months ending June 2018. ...

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