Firstly, he said it would create “a very simple, clear vision for Barclays” as a bank focused on its two core markets of the UK and US.
Secondly, he explained that Barclays was “structurally challenged” as the majority owner of the African operation. It has all the downsides of owning 100 per cent of the business, but benefits from less than two-thirds of its profits.
……. The African operation produced an attractive 17 per cent return on equity last year in local currency, but this fell to 8.7 per cent at group level, below its 10 per cent target.
In addition, the Wall Street Journal reports that the bank is selling its Asian wealth management fund in order to focus exclusively on the US and UK markets.
Cutting the African division “was a very difficult decision,” Mr. Staley said. A U.K. tax on bank balance sheets and the regulatory costs that come with holding the unit outweighed the benefits of keeping it, he added. It is unclear when Barclays will start to sell out of the business.
In short, this data point does not reveal any new information on the state of the African economies in which Barclays is a major player.