* Atlas Mara has to make decision by Sunday
* UBN formerly owned by Barclays
By Chijioke Ohuocha and Steve Slater
LAGOS/LONDON, Sept 4 Atlas Mara, the
African investment vehicle of former Barclays boss Bob Diamond,
is in talks to buy a $275 million stake in Union Bank of Nigeria
, a person familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
Lagos-based UBN was established as Colonial Bank in 1917,
and from 1925 until the 1970s was owned by Barclays,
the British bank that Diamond led before being ousted under a
cloud two years ago. UBN's market capitalisation is about $850
Atlas Mara has to make a decision on whether to buy the
minority stake in UBN by Sunday. Atlas Mara and UBN declined to
Atlas Mara said in a prospectus published last month for the
relisting of its shares in London that it had the option to
invest $275 million for "a non-controlling minority stake in a
publicly traded African financial institution with operations in
Nigeria and certain other countries in West Africa."
It said this week it had extended a deadline on whether to
take up the option until Sept. 7.
If it chooses not to buy the stake Atlas Mara will have to
pay a "break fee" of $2.5 million.
A deal would mark the third significant acquisition by Atlas
Mara after being set up last year by Diamond and Africa-based
entrepreneur Ashish Thakkar. It raised $300 million last month
to add to its acquisition war chest.
One of its purchases, ADC African Development Corporation,
already owned a 9.1 percent indirect stake in UBN.
Diamond wants to build Atlas Mara into Africa's leading bank
through acquisitions. Previous deals have given it a platform in
several countries including Botswana, Mozambique and Tanzania.
Diamond is one of the world's best-known bankers after
spearheading the growth of Barclays' investment bank before
being forced from his job as CEO in 2012 by UK regulators after
the bank was fined for attempted rigging of Libor interest
His plans in Africa could put him in direct competition with
Barclays, which has had a presence there since the 1920s and is
one of the biggest international banks on the continent.
(Editing by Keiron Henderson)