Diamond Says Atlas Mara Seeks Further Acquisitions After ABC

Robert Diamond said Atlas Mara Co-Nvest Ltd. is looking at more acquisitions after agreeing to buy ABC Holdings Ltd. and ADC African Development Corp. for as much as $265 million.

“There are many other opportunities to focus on now,” Diamond said yesterday in an interview in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital. “I can’t imagine a higher quality first transaction.”

Atlas Mara, the investment firm founded by former Barclays Plc Chief Executive Officer Diamond, said on March 31 that it was purchasing BancABC, which offers financial services in Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Diamond, who raised $325 million in an initial public offering for Atlas Mara in December, said the bank provides a springboard for further acquisitions in Africa.

“One of our first missions as we do multiple acquisitions is to make sure that we have a technology platform, meaning we have the operations of a bank,” Diamond said. It will give Atlas Mara “the license to grow.”

Diamond, who quit as Barclays CEO 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.

Sophisticated Platforms

“There are a lot of things we can do that are going to be very innovative in Africa that aren’t necessarily new in other markets,” Diamond said. “Bringing in sophisticated capital markets platforms, a securitization platform are things that are very needed to get capital markets moving and institutional investors more involved in the debt market here.”

BancABC started in Botswana in 1956 and trades both in that country and on Zimbabwe’s stock exchange. ADC, which trades in Frankfurt, owns 47.1 percent of BancABC and 9.1 percent of Union Bank of Nigeria, the company said.

Other shareholders of BancABC, which boosted profit by 49 percent to 198 million pula ($22.5 million) last year, include Old Mutual Plc and the International Finance Corp., according to the lender’s website.

Atlas Mara will invest US$100 million in BancABC after the transactions are completed, helping to boost the company’s capital-adequacy ratios, Douglas Munatsi, CEO of ABC Holdings, said in an interview yesterday in Gaborone.

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