Barclays Bank Zimbabwe Snatched by FMB Malawi

Barclays Bank Zimbabwe, with a market capitalization of approximately US$65 million, has been bought by First Merchant Bank (FMB) of Malawi. According to sources Barclays Bank plc, the majority shareholder of the bank, will not necessarily receive cash settlement for the acquisition but will received part ownership of FMB Malawi that it can dispose of at a later time.

Barclays Bank Zimbabwe Snatched by FMB Malawi

The bidding wars for Barclays Bank Zimbabwe were quite fierce with the latest controversy when the staff appealed to the High Court of Zimbabwe seeking to stop the sale of the bank to the First Merchant Bank Malawi, demanding to be given the right of first refusal. It was such a spectacle that local, a Facebook group for bidding wars in Zimbabwe, had a running joke where members could bid for a pseudo Barclays Bank from as little as US$1. Although we cannot confirm the final bid price before the post was taken down, one member of the group confirmed that there was a fake bid for $100 million. It seems all the participants were aware that the post was just fun and games. For the real Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe, there were no fun and games – it was serious business as the bidding wars were an intensely stressful journey for all parties involved.

The controversy surrounding the bidding wars of Barclays Bank Zimbabwe now force account holders and the public to r as to the future of the bank. Some of the concerns we have seen on social media include the following:

  • Why didn’t other Zimbabwean business “tycoons” grab the opportunity to indigenize Barclays Zimbabwe
  • I am moving my funds to another bank
  • Lost all my savings when Kingdom bank closed. Will funds remain safe and secure?
  • What will happen to Barclays Bank pension obligations?
  • Will senior management staff lose jobs to foreign executives?
  • Will middle management and junior staff lose their jobs?

One thing we can expect is that rumors will be flying around concerning the above concerns and more. It’s important during this time to not panic and rather investigate concerns and look to official press releases or communication from the bank. It’s fair to assume the exact plans for the bank under new ownership are not clear, perhaps not even to the current top management therefore it’s important to wait for official communication and not believe too many speculative publications.

Having said this, studies have shown that in general layoffs are almost a sure thing and more so in the accounting, marketing and human resources departments. As mentioned above, even bosses may not be in the loop and quite possibly be the first ones out the door so it is important for staff to keep a positive attitude and to continue doing a great job to increase chances of keeping their jobs as the new owners look for redundancies and areas to cut costs. For staff, this is not the time to cocoon but rather take on more responsibility and show your worth/value to FMB Malawi.

While we cannot speculate on the stability of the bank or safety of deposits post this ownership change, we will keep a close eye on the new bank for red flags or hopefully signs of good times ahead for account holders.

In 1912 Barclays Bank opened it’s first branch after Bank of Africa was acquired by National bank of South Africa and effectively became Barclays Bank controlled from South Africa. According to it’s website, Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe Limited is a registered Commercial Bank and a member of the Deposit Protection Scheme. All Barclays Insurance is underwritten by Zimnat Insurance.

Do you have an account at the bank or work for Barclays? What are your immediate thoughts on the purchase of the bank by FMB Malawi?

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