London-listed pan-African banking group; Atlas Mara Ltd started by Bob Diamond has drawn interest from several banks and private equity firms for its remaining assets on the continent.
Bob Diamond, a former Barclays Plc chief executive officer had started Atlas Mara alongside Ashish J. Thakkar in late 2013. They group acquired, by way of four transactions, control of (or significant stakes in) banking operations in seven sub-Saharan African countries, including Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Rwanda and Nigeria, several of which rank amongst the fastest growing countries in the world.
Atlas Mara has been selling off its assets in Africa, the latest being the sell of African Banking Corporation of Botswana Limited (BancABC Botswana) to Nigeria’s Access Bank Plc.
According to a Bloomberg report, Atlas Mara has received a number of approaches for its 49.97% holding in Lagos-based Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, the people said, asking not to be identified as the talks are private. Nigeria’s Zenith Bank Plc and Access Bank Plc are among suitors that have expressed interest, alongside other African rivals such as Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank, the people said.
Middle Eastern banks and private equity suitors have also shown interest, according to the people. Some potential buyers have indicated they may acquire all of Atlas Mara’s remaining assets in Africa, which would include its Zimbabwe unit, the people said.
The report went on to say that Atlas Mara has been working with Rothschild & Co. to consider options for its union Bank Stake. No final decisions have been made, and there’s no certainty the deliberations will lead to a transaction, the people said.
The firm’s stake in UBN, Nigeria’s sixth-biggest bank by market value, is its largest investment and seen as a foothold into the continent’s most populous nation.
Representatives for Atlas Mara and Zenith Bank didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg’s requests for comment. Attijariwafa Bank Managing Director Ismail Douiri and a representative for Access Bank declined to comment as well.
About Union Bank of Nigeria Plc
Established in 1917 and listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 1971, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc. is a household name and one of Nigeria’s long-standing and most respected financial institutions. The Bank is a trusted and recognizable brand, with an extensive network of over 300 branches across Nigeria.
he Bank currently offers a variety of banking services to both individual and corporate clients including current, savings and deposit account services, funds transfer, foreign currency domiciliation, loans, overdrafts, equipment leasing and trade finance. The Bank also offers its customers convenient electronic banking channels and products including Online Banking, Mobile Banking, Debit Cards, ATMs and POS Systems.
More information can be found at: www.unionbankng.com
Nnamdi Maduakor is a Writer, Investor and Entrepreneur