March 8, 2016 / 4:20 PM / 3 years ago

Exclusive: Morocco's Attijariwafa Bank plans bid for Barclays' Egypt business

DUBAI (Reuters) - Attijariwafa Bank (ATW.CS), Morocco’s largest bank by assets, plans to bid for the Egyptian operations of Barclays (BARC.L), a senior executive told Reuters on Tuesday.

The Barclays logo is seen outside a branch of the bank in central London October 30, 2014. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Barclays said last week it will sell its Africa business as Chief Executive Jes Staley attempts to simplify the bank’s structure and seek higher shareholder returns.

The British lender plans to sell its 62 percent stake in Barclays Africa Group BGAJ.J over the next two to three years. It will also sell its separate operations in Egypt and Zimbabwe.

“Egypt we will look at and we already signaled that to Barclays. Once the competitive process starts we hope to receive the documents and decide accordingly,” Attijariwafa Bank General Manager Ismail Douiri said in an interview on the sidelines of an event in Dubai.

Sources familiar with the sale said the equity size of Barclays’ Egyptian unit was around $400 million.

Barclays has 56 branches and serves around 127,000 customers in Egypt, where it first established a foothold in 1864, according to the bank’s website.

Attijariwafa has a presence in 24 countries, including 14 in Africa.

The bank has been keen to expand into Egypt for several years and reached the final stages in bidding for BNP Paribas’ Egyptian retail business, which was eventually sold to Dubai bank Emirates NBD in 2013, Douiri said.

He said Attijariwafa is not interested in Barclays Africa Group - which runs Absa in South Africa and Barclays-branded operations in a number of other countries - as it would not likely offer a majority stake and is largely made up of South Africa, a highly competitive market.

Attijariwafa, 48 percent controlled by Moroccan royal family holding SNI, aims to grow its net banking income from outside Morocco to 30 percent over the next five years, from 27 percent now, he said. A large acquisition may add an additional 10 percent to that ratio, he added.

The bank is also examining Nigeria for acquisition opportunities, he said.

Egypt and Nigeria are among the largest banking markets in Africa with populations of around 90 million and 170 million, respectively.

The bank is targeting loans and deposit growth of 4 to 5 percent in 2016 after a dip in growth last year, he said.

Reporting by Tom Arnold; editing by Susan Thomas

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