Ex-Barclays boss raises $325m

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A logo hangs outside a branch of Barclays bank in the City of London.

London - Atlas Mara, a new shell company backed by the former boss of Barclays Bob Diamond, said it had raised $325 million by listing on the London Stock Exchange and now planned to build a new financial services business in Africa.

The company said on Tuesday it saw significant gaps within the African financial services sector, partly because European lenders quit the region after the financial crisis to focus instead on building capital to meet tougher regulations.

Atlas Mara said that presented an opportunity for it to make an acquisition that would enable it to develop a financial institution “to support economic growth and strengthen financial systems in Africa”.

Diamond set up Atlas Mara after he was ousted from Barclays last year when the bank was fined $450 million for alleged manipulation of the Libor interbank lending rate.

His partner in the new company is billionaire entrepreneur Ashish Thakkar, chief executive of Mara Group.

The new African investment business will be managed by Atlas Merchant Capital, the merchant bank Diamond has established in New York with a view to expand into sub-Saharah African banks and financial services.

Conditional dealings in Atlas Mara shares begin on Tuesday.

The proceeds from the initial public offering included a $20 million investment by its founders.

Citigroup acted as advisor on the IPO.

Diamond left Barclays in July 2012. It was the first bank fined for its involvement in Libor rate-rigging, but since then Switzerland's UBS, Royal Bank of Scotland and Dutch lender Rabobank have received much bigger fines. - Reuters

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