24 August 2014

Zimbabwe: Atlas Mara Seals Bancabc Deal

Bob Diamond's co-founded Atlas Mara has completed the acquisition of BancABC's parent company and African Development Corporation (ADC) in the first step towards realising its dream of becoming a giant financial services group in sub-Saharan Africa.

In March, Atlas Mara -- founded by ex-Barclays Plc chief executive Diamond and billionaire Ashish Thakkar -- announced that it would buy 50,1% in ABC Holdings, the parent company of pan African banking group, BancABC.

Atlas Mara also made a voluntary offer to acquire a majority stake in ADC, bringing total ownership in BancABC up to 88% and a subsequent mandatory offer for the remaining 12% stake in BancABC.

Last week, Atlas Mara said completion conditions were satisfied for the voluntary public offer of Atlas Mara for ADC.

This came after over 95% of ADC shareholders had tendered their shares for the swap.

In a notice on Friday, Atlas Mara announced the closing of its acquisitions of ABC Holdings Limited and ADC.

It said the successful completion of the transaction makes Atlas Mara a "fully operational entity and able to continue to execute its strategy of becoming sub-Saharan Africa's premier financial institution".

Atlas Mara said it had applied for readmission on the London Stock Exchange, adding that dealings in the company's ordinary shares and warrants would commence on August 27.

Atlas Mara's ordinary shares and warrants were temporarily suspended from trading on April 1 when the company announced its intention to acquire a majority of BancABC and make a voluntary public offer to acquire 100% of ADC.

As a result of the acquisitions of BancABC and ADC, Atlas Mara will have operations in five countries -- Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia -- and minority investments in Nigeria and Kenya.

Diamond said the company had in place "one of the strongest management teams I have seen in an African financial institution and, with BancABC, and, in the near future with BRD [Development Bank of Rwanda], they have excellent assets to develop".

"They are already working on identifying where we can add value and are the right team to ensure that the banks deliver the service corporates, SMEs [small to medium enterprises] and retail customers require," he said.

Thakkar said the re-listing "is a very exciting milestone for us".

"We have achieved a tremendous amount in a short space of time and there is still so much potential.

"Atlas Mara now operates banking operations in several of Africa's fastest growing economies and we are looking at other opportunities, particularly in West Africa," he said.

"We set ourselves the objective of being a leading African financial services company and today's announcement demonstrates that we are well on our way to achieving this goal."

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.

In a recent management report and statement, Atlas Mara board chairman Arnold Ekpe said he was excited by the company's prospects in the outlook.

"I believe firmly in the company's strategy of being a 'positive disruptive force' in sub-Saharan African financial services and I'm excited by the company's prospects," Ekpe said.

"I remain confident in the outlook for the company given its strong capital position... the high quality management team that we have been able to attract, and an exciting pipeline of potential additional acquisition opportunities that has been identified."

As at June 30 2014, Atlas Mara held US$306 million of cash and cash equivalent investments of which US$286 million was invested in US Treasuries and mutual funds holding among others.


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