ABSA Bank History
Absa was founded in 1991 through the merger of financial service providers United Bank (South Africa), the Allied Bank (South Africa), the Volkskas Bank Group and certain interests of the Sage Group. The following year, Absa acquired the entire shareholding of the Bankorp Group which included Trustbank, Senbank and Bankfin, thereby extending its asset base further. In the early years of this union, each bank operated under its own name. In 1998, they were fused into one single brand. A year later, Absa adopted a new corporate identity and the name was changed into Absa Group Limited.
To cement the union achieved in 1998, Absa decided to adopt a single brand and provide an array of financial services offering “simple, uncomplicated banking relationships, value for money, stability, convenience and superior customer service”.
In May 2005, Barclays Bank of the United Kingdom purchased 56.4% stake in Absa as part of its drive to expand its global product and international retail and commercial banking businesses to untapped markets outside the UK. Barclays called the transaction its largest investment outside the UK and the largest ever direct foreign investment in South Africa.
In early 2007, the Barclays Bank acquisition of Absa was criticised by governor of the South African Reserve Bank, Tito Mboweni who said he “had yet to see the benefits of Barclays’ management of Absa”.
In 2013, the group acquired the entire issued share capital of Barclays Africa Limited and issued 129,540,636 Consideration Shares to Barclays Africa Group Holdings Limited (a wholly owned subsidiary of Barclays) thus increasing the shareholding of Barclays plc to 62,3%. The Consideration Shares were listed on the JSE from the commencement of trading on 31 July 2013. The name change from “ABSA Group Limited” to “Barclays Africa Group Limited” was announced on 22 July 2013, and became effective 2 August 2013.
In January 2017, SA Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, sent a preliminary report to Absa, the Reserve Bank, the treasury and the presidency. The report states that between 1985-1992, Absa received extensive illegal bailout funds that amounted to more than R1.125 billion from the Reserve Bank. In the report, Mkhwebane recommends that Absa be forced to pay back R2.25 billion, which is the current equivalent, for these unlawful financial interactions. Absa had until the 28 February 2017 to respond.
In March 2018, Barclays Africa announced the group’s name would revert to Absa Group Limited, effective 30 May 2018. The company underwent re-branding in 2018, inclusive of a new logo and slogans