By JUDITH NAMUTOWE –
ATLAS Mara is exploring a bid for Barclays Bank’s stake in its Africa operation, the latest African magazine has revealed.
Atlas Mara, an investment vehicle founded by former Barclays director Bob Diamond, is the parent company of retail bank BancABC and was in the process of acquiring Finance Bank Zambia (FBZ).
According to the newsletter, Atlas Mara acknowledges that it has had discussions with a consortium of investors who were exploring an acquisition of Barclays’ stake in Barclays Africa and a potential combination of Atlas Mara with Barclays Africa.
Members of the consortium include Atlas Merchant Capital, Diamond’s New York-based investment vehicle, and Mara Group, headed by Ugandan billionaire Ashish Thakkar.
A number of reports have stated that Diamond and Atlas Merchant Capital were working with private equity firm Carlyle Group to purchase Barclays’ 62 per cent stake in Barclays Africa Group.
In March, Barclays said that it would sell its controlling stake in its Africa operations, which it has owned for most of the last century and includes investments in 12 African banks.
The newsletter states that Diamond, who co-founded Atlas Mara after resigning from the British bank in 2012 after its involvement in the manipulation of interbank lending rates, has been named as a potential buyer since then.
Diamond and Thakkar, who both serve on Atlas Mara’s board of directors, said they would recuse themselves from discussions if a formal offer was made.
The newsletter indicated that a merger with Barclays Africa will give Atlas Mara a needed boost to meet its expansion goals of moving into 15 sub-Saharan African markets from the current seven.
It indicated that the investment vehicle, founded in 2013, has struggled as investors have grown less interested in emerging markets.
Barclays Africa could add as much US$75 billion in assets to Atlas Mara’s US$2.4 billion if a merger goes forward.
“Given the significant complexity and early stage of the discussions with the consortium, there can be no assurance that the transactions discussed above, including the potential combination, will be completed,” indicates the newsletter.