British banking giant Barclays has finally retreated from African market by divesting its remaining 7.4% stake in South African lender Absa.

Barclays executed the deal through its subsidiary Barclays Principal Investments and raised over £538m from the divestment.

The sale of nearly 63 million ordinary shares marks Barclays’ exit from 97 years of retail banking presence in Africa.

The move is part of the bank’s strategy to refocus on its operations in key UK and US markets.

Following the latest stake sale, the British banking giant registered a loss of £31m through its income statement.

Barclays in its statement said the proceeds from the sale through “accelerated bookbuild placing” will be used for general corporate purposes of the group.

Absa operated banks in 10 African nations that include Ghana, Kenya, Botswana, and Tanzania.

The decision to strategically exit from Africa was first made in 2016 by the bank’s then CEO Jes Staley.

The move represented sale of 62% stake in Barclays Africa, a joint venture of Absa and Barclay’s African operations.  

The bank had also proposed to close its smaller operations in Asia, Brazil, Europe, and Russia.

In April this year, Barclays sold a 7.4% stake in Absa Group in a deal valued at around $687m.

The bank sold over 63 million shares in Absa at $10.88 apiece. According to the bank, it still operates a unit in Johannesburg with over 15 staffers. The unit is engaged in operations with investment, corporate and private banking clients as well as Africa-focused bankers worldwide.