Stephen Cranston Writer & columnist

Last week’s bookbuild, in which Barclays Plc sold 286m shares in its African subsidiary, will ensure that Barclays Africa is a widely held financial institution with no controlling shareholder. Speculation that the Public Investment Corp (PIC) would use its stake as a building block of a new state bank were incorrect. Even the process of building up a black economic empowerment consortium will be controlled from the centre, as Barclays Plc is donating R1.7bn of shares to a suitably friendly outfit. For the first time since 2004, Absa Bank (and its holding company, for now called Barclays Africa) will be an SA-controlled business. More than a year after Barclays Plc sold its 62% holding down to 50%, more than double the number of shares were made available in the second bookbuild. Barclays Africa CEO Maria Ramos says more than half of these shares were allocated to local investors, and two-thirds of these to long-only institutional investors, such as pension funds and unit trusts. Th...

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