AnaCap snaps up Barclays’ French operations

The sale is part of a wider move by the bank to reduce its non-core units.

UK-headquartered financial services specialist AnaCap Financial Partners has agreed to acquire the French retail banking operations of Barclays, according to the firm and the bank.

The acquisition includes Barclays' branch network, life insurance business, wealth and investment management and brokerage operations. It does not include Barclays' corporate and investment banking businesses in France, which will continue to be operated by Barclays, the bank said. 

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

The agreement follows completion of a consultation with employee representative bodies that began in May, when Barclays entered exclusive discussions with AnaCap, the firm said. 

Completion of the transaction is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to occur by the second quarter of 2017. 

The transaction is expected to reduce Barclays' risk-weighted assets by around £500 million ($632 million; €596 million) and annualised non-core costs by £130 million, the bank said. 

“This is another positive step in reducing our non-core unit, creating a more focused, simpler Barclays, and thereby releasing the strong performance of our core business. The agreement to sell our French business completes Barclays' exit from retail banking in continental Europe,” Barclays Group chief executive Jes Staley said.

“The business in France is an attractive one, with a strong customer base and proposition, but it is no longer central to our strategy. I wish the business well under new ownership and success for our dedicated colleagues who will become part of AnaCap's portfolio of companies following completion.”

The sale follows the completion last month of the sale of the bank's Wealth and Investment Management business in Singapore and Hong Kong to Bank of Singapore.

 In a statement, AnaCap said it intends to leverage Barclays' client base, network and relationship managers to build “the leading independent wealth manger in France”. The firm's plans include relaunching Barclays' mortgage lending offerings, improving its digital proposition and online tools to improve customer experience, enhancing the product offering and re-platforming the IT system.

“This is an extremely attractive platform with huge potential for growth, which benefits from a unique combination of distribution and manufacturing capabilities, a strong branch network and vastly experienced relationship managers across the country,” AnaCap director Nassim Cherchali said.

“We look forward to working with the management team to create the leading wealth manager for the affluent sector in France.”

In February, AnaCap held a final close for its third fund on €850 million, below its €900 million target, as reported by Private Equity International

Investments in the fund include Polish retail and SME bank FM Bank, which it acquired for an undisclosed sum after its previous owner, Polish private equity firm Abris Capital Partners, was forced to sell following a ruling by Poland's financial watchdog KNF. Abris merged two banks to create FM Bank and, according to the KNF ruling, failed to meet its commitments as an investor by failing to consult with the regulator on the choice of the chief executive for the new bank, as reported by PEI .

FM Bank has recently been rebranded as Nest Bank.

The Barclays acquisition represents the firm's second French investment, following the buyout of digital insurance broker AssurOne Group in 2014.