Jubilee's Barclays application dismissed

Barclays is looking forward to creating Africa’s “pre-eminent bank” after the sanctioning of on Thursday of its R33-billion takeover bid for Absa.

“The court sanction received today [Thursday] and declaring our offer for Absa unconditional, allows us to begin planning our shared future with certainty,” the chief executive of Barclays international retail and commercial banking, David Roberts, said in a statement.

“The support we have received from shareholders, customers and the wider community is a powerful demonstration of their belief that together Absa and Barclays will create the leading financial services organisation in South Africa and ultimately the pre-eminent bank on the African continent.”

Barclays, Britain’s third largest bank, offered R82,50 per share for a 60% stake in Absa, a deal worth R33-billion.

Judge Mohamed Jajbhay gave the go-ahead for deal on Thursday morning.

He first dismissed an application by the human rights group Jubilee SA and former Robben Island prisoner Professor Dennis Brutus to postpone the sanctioning of the deal.

“In the circumstances the application by Jubilee South Africa and Prof Brutus to intervene in the ex-parte application brought by Absa is refused,” the judge said.

“The scheme of arrangement is hereby sanctioned without modification.”

The applicants alleged that Barclays not only aided and abetted the apartheid regime in grossly violating human rights before it left the country in the 1980s, but was involved more recently in the controversial arms deal.

They have submitted that before being allowed back into the country, Barclays should have to apologise to South Africans and pay reparations to the victims of apartheid.

Jajbhay told the applicants: “Unfortunately I am unable to come to your assistance.

“The intervening parties had to show there had been violation or threat to their rights as entrenched in the Constitution. This they failed to do.”

Jajbhay said Absa’s shareholders would be prejudiced by “uncertainty” if the deal was to be postponed. Delaying the deal “may” have a negative impact on the economy and the currency, especially considering that the scheme was valued at R33-billion.

On Wednesday Jajbhay said South Africa had to move on from its apartheid history and forge ahead with democracy despite the pain it often wrought.

“As a young democracy we suffer from time to time the pangs of birth pain, but that must not stop us from forging ahead,” he said.

Brutus and Jubilee SA’s Makoma Lekalakala told the court that they regretted the decision.

“I will attempt to raise my concerns on another occasion,” Brutus told the court.

Lekalakala said: “Justice has failed the majority of the people of South Africa.”

Absa’s chairperson Danie Cronje said the court sanction was “the final significant milestone in this transaction” which would be completed on July 27.

“All of us at Absa are excited about the expected completion of the transaction on 27 July and are looking forward to being part of the Barclays group and working with our new colleagues,” he said.

The acquisition will become unconditional once the order of court sanctioning the scheme is registered by the Registrar of Companies.
This is expected to happen on Friday.

A small group from Jubilee South Africa protested outside the court.

Members of the group held up a banner reading: “My debt, my gun, my blood.”

They chanted “privatisation, no” and “reparations, yes”.

In a statement Jubilee vowed to continue its campaign against Barclays.

“The campaign against Barclays, the struggle to get Barclays to admit to its apartheid past and make amends will continue,” Jubilee said in a statement.

“The legal route today is only one tactic amongst many, including contacting allies in other countries where Barclays operates. - Sapa

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