Bob Diamond’s African banking venture announces biggest deal to date

The former chief executive of Barclays raised $325 million through the London float of Atlas last year

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The Independent Online

Bob Diamond’s African banking venture, Atlas Mara, today announced its biggest deal yet, giving it stakes in banks across the continent.

The former chief executive of Barclays, who was forced out after the bank was fined £290 million over the Libor scandal in 2012, raised $325 million (£199.2 million) through the London float of Atlas last year. 

Today it spent $270 million on a 20 per cent stake in Union Bank of Nigeria, lifting its holding from 9 per cent to 29.9 per cent.

Diamond said: “This is a very significant acquisition for Atlas Mara. With it, we will have a significant stake in a key Nigerian bank and we will also have established strategic market positions in three of Africa’s leading economic communities: the Southern Africa Development Community, the East Africa Community and the Economic Community of West African States.”

Nigeria is sub-Sahara Africa’s most populous country and its largest economy. UBN has $6.3 billion of assets, $1.7 billion of loans, $3.1 billion of deposits and $1.3 billion of equity.

John Vitalo, a former Diamond lieutenant at Barclays, and now chief executive of Atlas, said: “Expanding into Nigeria has been a focal point of our strategy and achieving a significant ownership position in an institution of the size, heritage and potential of UBN represents a unique opportunity.

“We know the team at UBN and are strong supporters of what they have achieved, as well as their identification of and focus on what there still is to achieve.”

Atlas has bought BancABC — which operates in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Zambia — and plans to buy 77 per cent of the Development Bank for Rwanda.