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Barclays seeks to calm layoff fears

Jeremy Awori
Barclays Bank Kenya managing director Jeremy Awori. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Barclays Bank of Kenya (BBK) now says it will not let go of its staff as a result of the ongoing restructuring exercise as it rebrands to Absa, even as the lender’s headcount has continued to drop over the years.

The bank’s staff stood at 2,128 as at last December following the exit of 78 employees under a voluntary staff exit scheme in 2018, according to its annual report. The lender spent Sh479 million to compensate the retrenched employees.

“While the transition is happening now, we have operated under Absa structure from as early as 2015…we expect it to continue without impacting on our staff count. At this point we don’t expect any changes in the structure that we have,” said Anthony Mulisa, the bank’s transition programme director.

However, the announcement is likely to offer little relief to its employees as firms routinely face redundancy after mergers, buyouts or divestitures, since the whole point of the process is to achieve efficiency through cost cutting.

Ahead of the June 2020 separation deadline, the lender had set aside Sh240 million for the process, with the figure expected to go up, Mr Mulisa said.

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The changes were sparked by the UK multinational’s move to reduce its stake to 14.9 percent in South Africa’s Absa Group, its former subsidiary through which it owned the Kenyan bank and nine others in the continent, including in Botswana, Ghana, Uganda and Zambia.

All the institutions are now taking on the Absa brand and cutting their ties with Barclays Plc which provided them with technical and software support, among other back office operations.

BBK expects all its operations in Kenya will change their name to Absa Group Limited by end of 2019.

Mr Mulisa said the migration process is aimed at reducing service dependency on Barclays Plc.

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