Ashish Thakkar, Tonye Cole step down from Atlas Mara Board

Ugandan billionaire Ashish Thakkar is leaving Atlas Mara Ltd., a company he co-founded with former Barclays Chief Executive Bob Diamond, to buy assets that will help them build a powerful banking group.

Thakkar is reported to be leaving with a few other board members to make way for new directors who are coming in to protect the interest of Fairfax Africa Holdings which recently infused $200 million in Atlas Mara to help it increase its stake in Nigeria’s Union Bank Plc. Atlas Mara currently holds about 20 percent stake in Union Bank. Fairfax Africa now holds 42 percent of Atlas Mara after it subscribed to 70.1 million new shares of the company.

Fairfax’s new board members are Michael Wilkerson (chief executive of Fairfax, and former managing partner at Africa-focused investment firm AgriGroupe), Richard Boucher (former chief executive of the Bank of Ireland), Quinn McLean (vice president of Fairfax’s investment advisor and Hamblin Watsa Investment Counsel) and Hisham Ezz Al-Arab (managing director of the Commercial International Bank of Egypt)

Nigeria’s Tonye Cole, a founding director and chair of the nomination committee, stepped down the board.  Also, Arina McDonald chief financial officer, stepped down to move back to South Africa for personal reasons. Kenroy Dowers, head of strategy and investments, will become finance chief on an interim basis.

According to Diamond, “Ashish played an important role supporting the team in our fintech business line and government and stakeholder relations, and will remain available to support us in these areas. Tonye will remain engaged in our Nigeria operations given the importance of Nigeria for our strategy,”.