British banking giant Barclays began the sale of its stake in its Africa unit Thursday — two months after it announced it would do so to pare losses. In a statement, the lender said it had raised 603 million pounds ($873 million) by selling a 12.2 percent stake in the Barclays Africa Group to an array of institutional investors.

With the share sale, Barclays’ stake in the South Africa unit has gone down to 50.1 percent.

Barclays has over 12 million customers across 12 nations in Africa. The business, which accounts for 14 percent of the bank’s assets, has been hit by a slowdown in economic growth in the region and a weakening South African rand.

In March, after the bank reported a 2 percent drop in full-year profit, Jes Staley — who took over as Barclays’ CEO in December — said the bank would “sell down” its 62.3 percent stake in its Africa business over the next two to three years, “to a level which will permit us to deconsolidate it from an accounting and regulatory perspective.”

Barclays wants to reduce its holding in its Africa unit to below 20 percent.

Although the bank did not divulge details about the buyers Thursday, it had, in a statement released Wednesday, said that South Africa’s state-run pension fund manager Public Investment Corporation had confirmed its intention to be an “anchor investor” and buy 10 percent of the shares sold.

The Financial Times, citing anonymous bankers, said that the shares were sold to about 20 institutions, many of which were South African.

“This is an important first step as we seek to reduce our shareholding in Barclays Africa to a level that achieves accounting and regulatory deconsolidation,” Staley said Wednesday. “Barclays Africa is an important partner, and we are working closely with local management, including planning for the operational separation of the two businesses in a way that will preserve value for shareholders in both the Barclays and Barclays Africa group.”