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Barclays is expanding private-banking services in Africa, looking to target the continent’s $2-trillion net worth market.

The British lender has hired nine bankers from Credit Suisse based in mainly Dubai, London and Zurich after agreeing a deal to handle clients referred by the Swiss rival, Barclays Private Bank CEO Jean-Christophe Gerard said.

“Barclays franchise in Africa is experiencing an accelerated buildout across south, west and east Africa,” Gerard said in an interview. “This will be done through organic growth and the referral agreement we have with Credit Suisse.”  

The $2.1-trillion of private wealth held on the African continent is expected to rise by 38% over the next 10 years, according to the Africa Wealth Report published in April. The move by Barclays to expand in the area contrasts with its exit from retail banking in SA, where it recently sold the last of its holding in Absa.

About half of Africa’s super-rich individuals are from SA, Nigeria and Kenya, where a lot of the bank’s focus will be, Gerard said. The lender has about 15 bankers in SA though is looking to hire more, Barclays country CEO Amol Prabhu said in the same interview. Other staff elsewhere are focused on the expansion. 

Wealthy Africans are investing in technology firms, including those focused on agriculture, finance and health, according to Gerard. That has helped contribute to a boom in start-up investment on the continent.  

“Entrepreneurs like to invest in entrepreneurs and therefore many are keen to participate in the Barclays direct-assets programme for instance,” said Gerard. 

Investment in UK real estate is also accelerating, he said, with Africa’s super rich either seeing the market as an investment opportunity or holiday home or both.  

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