Bob Diamond’s Atlas Mara to Buy Stake in Rwandan Lender

Robert Diamond, former head of Barclays Plc (BARC), has agreed to buy a stake in state-owned Development Bank of Rwanda through his new financial-services venture Atlas Mara Co-Nvest Ltd.

The partnership will help Atlas Mara build “a leading African financial services group,” Diamond said in a joint statement with Rwanda’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning. It follows Atlas Mara’s agreement last week to buy Gaborone, Botswana-based financial services company BancABC for as much as $265 million.

“The Government of Rwanda is committed to privatization in a sense that attracts foreign direct investments, gives investors good business opportunities and also boosts economic growth,” Finance and Economic Planning Minister Claver Gatete said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website.

Diamond, who quit as Barclays chief executive officer in July 2012 after the British bank was fined for manipulating benchmark interest rates, and Ugandan entrepreneur Ashish Thakkar, both committed $20 million of their own money to Atlas Mara. The firm is looking for African financial-services companies that can help businesses manage currency and commodity risks.

Atlas Mara plans to sell corporate loans in sub-Saharan Africa to international investors, Diamond said April 3. BancABC, which offers services in Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, will be a springboard for further acquisitions, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Ombok in Nairobi at eombok@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net James Herron, Bruce Stanley

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