Barclays plc (BCS) - Get Report confirmed Wednesday afternoon it will sell approximately 22% of its stake in Barclays Africa Group Ltd. (BAGL) and begin separating the unit, putting into motion the most substantial part of its restructuring plans. 

The British lender said had received the necessary regulatory approvals to further sell down its position in BAGL and enter into agreements with BAGL governing the terms on which a separation will occur.

Barclays said it will sell approximately 187 million ordinary shares in BAGL, which could be worth £1.6 billion, reducing its stake in the African financial services company to 28%. The bank is targeting long-term shareholding in BAGL of around 15%.

Barclays shares were 0.41% at 16:31 BST in London, changing hands at 210.05 pence. Shares had surged earlier in the day after Sky first reported unconfirmed reports of the deal.

South Africa's Public Investment Corporation SOC Ltd. will act as an anchor for the placing, purchasing 59 million shares, which represents 7% of BAGL's issued share capital.

The terms of the PIC commitment reflect PIC's requirement for regulatory approvals in certain African jurisdictions.

All of the remaining ordinary shares in BAGL held by Barclays or its subsidiaries (excluding the 1.5% which Barclays has agreed to contribute towards the establishment of a black economic empowerment scheme and any shares held by BAGL and its subsidiaries) not sold in the placing will be subject to a lock-up restriction from today until 90 days after settlement.

Barclays has been seeking to sell all or part its African holding for more than a year as part of a renewed focus on its U.K. and U.S. operations. In its last quarterly earnings report, published on April 28, pre-tax profit rose to £1.682 billion, the company said, beating the £1.469 billion estimate compiled by FactSet but credit impairment charges grew 19% to £527 million, thanks to a one-off £884 million goodwill hit to BAGL.

Barclays is in the midst of restructuring, that will see it sell off its non-core assets to focus on its U.K. retail bank and global investment and corporate bank. Selling down its stake in the BAGL is one of the biggest parts of CEO Jes Staley's restructuring plans.

"Non-Core rundown carries on apace, with materially lower losses, and RWAs reducing by a further £5 billion to £27 billion in the quarter. We remain well on track to close the unit on the 30th of June," Staley said in an April statement.

Barclays sold the first chunk of its stake in the South African unit in May, 2016, through a placing with institutional investors, cutting its stake to 50.10% from 60%. At the point when its holding falls below a 20% share of the company, Barclays will be able to deconsolidate the African business from its group results.