Bob Diamond-backed Atlas Mara to expand in Africa via acquisitions

March 31 Mon Mar 31, 2014 7:28pm EDT

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March 31 (Reuters) - Bob Diamond-backed investment company Atlas Mara, said it would acquire sub-Saharan African bank ABC Holdings Limited (BancABC) and ADC African Development Corporation AG, for up to $265 million in cash and shares.

The acquisition comes as a first for former Barclay's boss Diamond, who was ousted from Barclays last year when the bank was fined $450 million for alleged manipulation of the Libor interbank lending rate.

Atlas Mara, Diamond's London-listed shell company, said it would acquire BancABC's shares in excess of 50.1 percent of total shares outstanding for $0.82 per share or the equivalent in Atlas Mara shares.

The company also said it intends to make a public share-for-share takeover offer for ADC at an exchange ratio of 1.25 times Atlas Mara shares per ADC share.

Atlas Mara said it expects to fund the acquisition via proceeds of its previously completed IPO and the issuance of shares.

Diamond raised $325 million by Atlas Mara's London Stock Exchange listing in December, with Africa-focused billionaire entrepreneur Ashish Thakkar.

Atlas Mara is formed of Atlas Merchant Capital LLC, set up by Diamond in New York, and Ashish Thakkar's Mara Group Holdings Limited.

BancABC has been providing financial services in Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe since the last 58 years. ADC is also an Africa-focused banking group with an indirect 47.1 percent stake in BancABC.

The scope for growth in Africa is significant. Barely a quarter of sub-Saharan Africans have a bank account, yet economic growth in the region is set to outpace the global average over the next three years, according to World Bank last year's figures.

"Our objective is to build Africa's premier financial services group leveraging the access to capital, liquidity and funding that we at Atlas Mara can provide," Bob Diamond, director and co-founder of Atlas Mara said on Monday.

Atlas Mara said its shares would be delisted from the LSE with immediate effect until the acquisition is completed post which it would seek re-admission to the exchange. (Reporting by Aashika Jain in Bangalore; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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