Morocco’s Attijariwafa says to work with UBS on bid for Barclays Egypt

Attijariwafa Bank, Morocco’s biggest lender, is working with UBS Group AG on a potential bid for Barclays Plc’s Egyptian business, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg on Thursday.

The U.K. bank has received limited interest for the business after reaching out to Gulf-based banks, two of the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. The British bank has yet to receive any non-binding offers, they said.

Chief Executive Officer Jes Staley, seeking to focus on the most profitable businesses in the U.K. and the U.S., is weighing whether to keep emerging-market businesses amid concerns over slowing economic growth. Barclays sold about one-fifth of its stake in Johannesburg-based Barclays Africa Group Ltd. in the market earlier this month as part of Staley’s plan to retreat from the continent and raise cash, leaving it with 50.1 percent.

The Egyptian business, which dates back to 1864 and is focused on retail banking, could be worth more than $500 million, a person familiar with knowledge of the plan said in February. The unit employs 1,500 people and has 56 branches in cities including Cairo, Giza and Alexandria, according to its website.

Attijariwafa is drawing up plans to expand into East Africa, with a focus on Kenya and Ethiopia, and is also very keen on Nigeria and Ghana in West Africa, Chief Executive Officer Mohamed El Kettani said in February, adding that the bank has had no contact with Barclays over its Egyptian unit. The lender operates in at least 23 countries including Tunisia, Niger, Gabon and Cameroon, as well as France, Germany and Italy in Europe.

A spokesman at UBS declined to comment, while a spokesman for Barclays couldn’t immediately comment. A spokeswoman for Attijariwafa wasn’t immediately able to comment.