Woolworths Holdings Limited and Absa Group Limited are pleased to announce the launch of a joint venture from yesterday, 1 October 2008 following fulfillment of all conditions precedent. Woolworths and Absa announced in April 2008 that Absa would acquire a 50% plus one share interest in Woolworths Financial Services (Proprietary) Limited for R875 million. The joint venture was subject to the fulfillment of a number of conditions precedent, including among others: • the internal restructure of Woolworths Financial Services so that Woolworths Financial Services is the beneficial owner of all financial services businesses within the wider Woolworths group; • the unconditional approval of the transaction by the South African Competition Authorities or approval on such conditions as are reasonably acceptable to both Woolworths and Absa; and • the execution of the remaining legal agreements necessary to give effect to the transaction. The joint venture was created to manage the ongoing expansion of Woolworths Financial Services and to further enhance Absa’s participation in the consumer finance market. The joint venture brings together three strong consumer brands in Woolworths, Absa and Barclaycard, and will provide Woolworths customers with access to the benefits of a full range of local and international financial products and services, including the launch of a premium Barclaycard offering. Woolworths Financial Services will achieve financial and operational benefits through access to Absa’s funding, credit risk, customer value management capabilities and industry expertise backed by global financial services leader Barclays PLC. Woolworths Financial Services will now be fully consolidated by Absa, but will continue to be operated and managed under the Woolworths Financial Services brand. Simon Susman, Chief executive officer of Woolworths says, “I am delighted at the launch of this joint venture. This is a fantastic opportunity for Woolworths to bring in the expertise of Absa to grow this business. Our customers can soon look forward to a far more diversified range of financial services products.” Louis von Zeuner, Absa Group executive director adds, “This is not just another joint venture but rather the establishment of a long-term strategic partnership between Absa and Woolworths. It is a landmark deal that represents one of the largest retail financial services transactions to date in South Africa.” Sam Ngumeni has been appointed Chief executive officer of the new entity. Ngumeni says, “I am delighted at the launch of the joint venture. I look forward to combining the capabilities of Absa and Woolworths to&nbsp value for our customers and our shareholders.”