Robert Diamond.

London - Robert Diamond named former Barclays Plc colleague John Vitalo as chief executive officer of his African financial-services company, Atlas Mara Co-Nvest.

Vitalo, 49, has been Barclays’s Middle East and North Africa chief executive since 2009, Atlas Mara said in a statement today.

Before joining Barclays, Vitalo ran Absa Capital, the investment-banking arm of the South African lender Barclays bought control of in 2005.

Diamond, who quit as Barclays’s chief executive in 2012 after the UK bank was fined for manipulating benchmark interest rates, put $20 million of his own money into the firm as Atlas Mara raised $325 million in an initial public offering in December.

The company said yesterday it was buying a stake in state-owned Development Bank of Rwanda after last week agreeing to acquire BancABC for as much as $265 million.

“As we continue to grow and attract more great assets, his ability to drive synergies and operational efficiencies will be invaluable,” Diamond said of Vitalo in the statement.

“He is a business builder, deeply knowledgeable in the critical areas of technology and risk.”

Diamond said BancABC, which offers financial services in Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, will provide a springboard for further acquisitions.


Executive Committee


Vitalo will lead Atlas Mara’s group executive committee, which also includes the firm’s head of strategy, Jyrki Koskelo, and Doug Munatsi, chief executive of BancABC.

During his time at Barclays, Diamond was the part of the executive team that sought to boost the bank’s profitability by combining its African operations with those of South Africa’s Absa Group.

Vitalo was head of Absa’s investment banking unit until 2009 when he moved across to Barclays.

Atlas Mara also plans to sell securitised corporate loans in sub-Saharan Africa to international investors, Diamond said on April 2.

Securitising loans will open up one of the fastest-growing regions in the world to institutional investors and provide capital to businesses operating in Africa, he said. - Bloomberg News