HomeBusinessAtlas Mara intensifies African acquisitions

Atlas Mara intensifies African acquisitions

ATLAS Mara, the parent company of pan-African banking group ABC Holdings (ABCH), will acquire a 20,9% shareholding in a Nigerian bank as it consolidates its presence in Africa’s biggest economy.
The acquisition will take its stake in Union Bank of Nigeria (UBN) to 29,9%.

BY NDAMU SANDU

The acquisition comes after Atlas Mara — co-founded by ex-Barclays Plc chief executive officer Bob Diamond and entrepreneur billionaire Ashish Thakkar — acquired 95,8% shareholding in ABCH and African Development Corporation (ADC) as part of its thrust to build a premier financial services group in sub-Saharan Africa.

Atlas Mara will acquire the remaining 4,2% to wholly own the pan-African banking group with operations in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Mozambique and Tanzania.

In a notice on Friday, Atlas Mara said it had exercised an option agreement to acquire approximately 20,9% in UBN for US$270 million.

UBN is a publicly-traded financial institution with substantially all of its operations in Nigeria with a network of 340 branches across the country.

As at June 30 2014, UBN had assets totalling US$6,3 billion and deposits of US$3,1 billion.

Diamond said the acquisition was significant in that the group had established strategic market positions in “three of Africa’s leading economic communities: the Southern Africa Development Community, the East Africa Community and Economic Community of West African States”.

Ashish Thakkar said by increasing its stake in UBN, combined with the completed acquisitions of BancABC and ADC and its pending acquisition of the commercial banking operations of Rwanda Development Bank (BRD), “we are well on the way to becoming a leading African financial institution that will benefit from, and contribute to, the continued growth of rapidly expanding sub-Saharan Africa”.

Atlas Mara will have 100% shares in a commercial bank to be formed in Rwanda. The bank will be formed through the transfer of BRD assets and liabilities to the new entity.

Atlas Mara will acquire 100% shareholding in the commercial bank at a price of between US$10 million and US$25 million. The entry into Rwanda will be Atlas Mara’s gateway to East Africa.

Atlas Mara sees its strategy in sub-Saharan Africa’s financial services sector as a “positive disruptive force” buoyed by a strong capital position and acquisitions.

Since debuting on the London Stock Exchange last year, the group has so far raised over US$800 million. It raised US$325 during its initial public offering.

In May, it raised US$300 million from a private placement and secured a commitment agreement for a debt facility of up to US$200 million to finance its pan-African drive.

ABCH chief executive officer Douglas Munatsi said the new shareholders were more ambitious and wanted to be top in markets they operate in.

“We have been saying that we want to be in the top five. They are saying top five is not enough, maybe top three. They are far more ambitious than us. They have much greater capacity to mobilise capital,” Munatsi said.

BancABC will remain the chosen brand for the Sadc region, BRD will retain the same name and there won’t be any wholesale changes to the corporate identity or structure, Munatsi said.

Munatsi will join the executive committee at Atlas Mara which has chief executive officer John Vitalo, Jyrki Koskelo and Bradford Gibbs.

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