By Chijioke Ohuocha and Alexis Akwagyiram
LAGOS (Reuters) – Barclays Africa plans to join the Nigerian Stock Exchange in July and is exploring opportunities in three other African countries, in a move to create access for foreign investors looking to tap into markets on the continent.
Garth Klintworth, head of markets for Barclays Africa Group, on Thursday said its subsidiary Absa Nigeria had acquired a securities licence in Nigeria, part of a wider plan to increase it presence in west Africa’s biggest economy.
Nigeria’s stock exchange, the third largest in Africa, has in the last few years said it was reviewing applications from leading global investment banks to join its trading floor to increase foreign investment in one of the world’s least tapped emerging markets.
“We have acquired a securities licence, stock broking licence and we have already employed people to bring those licences to effect,” Klintworth told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in the commercial capital, Lagos.
Klintworth said Absa would start to trade on the Nigerian stock market from July and was also looking at other markets.
“We are investigating what opportunities there are in Ivory Coast, Morocco and possibly Angola,” he said.
The chief executive of Barclays Africa, Maria Ramos, said in March it aimed to double its share of the African banking market to 12 percent over the medium term.
Barclays Africa is changing its name back to South African brand Absa after it split from former parent Barclays, he added.
Nigeria’s stock market gained strongly in January after rising 43 percent last year. However, some profit taking has depressed equities.
Klintworth said his firm had not seen foreign investors pull out of Nigeria due to rising interest rates in United States or effects of contagion in Italy. However, he said investors were rotating within emerging markets to tap into higher yields.
He said Barclays Africa has seen some flows into Nigeria in the first quarter of 2018, though most investors had opted to wait as they searched for higher yields.
(Editing by Alexandra Hudson)