Diamond’s Atlas Mara to Increase Stake in Union Bank of Nigeria

Atlas Mara Co-Nvest Ltd., the investment firm backed by Robert Diamond, increased its stake in Union Bank of Nigeria Plc for about $270 million in a push to expand in Africa’s most populous country.

The company will purchase a stake of about 20.9 percent from Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, it said in a statement today. UBN, which provides banking services to individuals and companies in Nigeria through almost 340 branches, had assets of about $6.3 billion at the end of June.

Atlas Mara, which was co-founded by former Barclays Plc Chief Executive Officer Diamond, 63, started trading on the London Stock Exchange’s main market last month. The company, which raised $325 million in an initial public offering last year, has been expanding through stakes such as in the Development Bank of Rwanda and ABC Holdings Ltd.

“This is a very significant acquisition,” Diamond said in the statement. “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.”

UBN, a publicly traded company with roots in 1917, had loans of $1.7 billion at the end of June, with $3.1 billion in deposits and $1.3 billion in equity, according to the statement. The purchase price values the company at about the same as its book value, Atlas Mara said.

“I am delighted that we are increasing our stake in such a storied institution,” Atlas Mara CEO John Vitalo said in the statement. “Expanding into Nigeria has been a focal point of our strategy.”

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