Diamond makes move on pan-African group

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Former Barclays chief executive Robert Diamond’s investment firm, Atlas Mara Co-Nvest, has made its first acquisition.

It had agreed to buy ABC Holdings and ADC African Development for as much as $265 million (R2.8 billion), Atlas Mara said late on Monday.

ABC Holdings is the parent of a number of sub-Saharan banks operating under the BancABC brand, which offers financial services in Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. ADC owns 47.1 percent of BancABC and 9.1 percent of Union Bank of Nigeria.

“Our objective is to build Africa’s premier financial- services group leveraging the access to capital, liquidity and funding that Atlas Mara can provide,” Diamond said.

ADC chief executive Dirk Harbecke said Atlas Mara shared “ADC’s vision of creating a pan-African banking group”.

Diamond resigned as Barclays chief executive in July 2012 after the British bank was fined for manipulating benchmark interest rates. During his tenure, Diamond sought to boost Barclays’s profitability by combining its African operations with those of Absa Group, in which it acquired a majority stake in 2005.

Diamond and Ugandan entrepreneur Ashish Thakkar raised $325m in an initial public offering for Atlas Mara in December. The investment firm is looking for African financial services companies that can help businesses manage currency and commodity risks.

Atlas Mara said it agreed to pay 82c a share for BancABC and offered 1.25 of its own shares for each one of ADC’s. Investors with 34.1 percent of ADC’s stock had agreed to tender their shares, it said.

Atlas Mara, which asked the London Stock Exchange to suspend its shares, has gained 4.6 percent since its listing. ADC rose as much as 8.5 percent in intraday trade and was up 3.8 percent at noon in Frankfurt. – Bloomberg


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