Atlas Mara, the African investment vehicle of former Barclays boss, Bob Diamond announced that it has agreed to acquire an additional 280,956,166 shares of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc. This deal is expected to increase Atlas Mara’s direct and indirect holdings in the bank from 48 percent to 49 percent. This is a steady climb towards taking a controlling stake in the bank.
Atlas first bought a stake in Union from the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) in 2012. In 2014, Atlas Mara paid $275 million for 20.9 percent stake which increased its stake in Union Bank of Nigeria from 9.1 percent in the bank through its purchase of Africa Development Corp. to 30 percent. Since then it has progressively increased its holdings. In 2017, it acquired 13 percent stake in the bank form The Clermont Group at $55 million. The Clermont Group is part of the Union Global Partners Ltd (UGPL) consortium that bought a majority stake from AMCON in 2012.
Bob Diamond firm’s target is to become Africa’s leading bank through acquisitions; its investments have seen it gain a foothold in seven sub-Saharan countries which includes Botswana, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Nigeria.
Bob Diamond is regarded as one of the world’s best-known bankers. Diamond spearheaded the growth of Barclays’ investment bank before being forced out in 2012 by UK regulators after the bank was fined for the attempted rigging of Libor interest rates. According to Reuters, “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.”
Union Bank of Nigeria is one of Nigeria’s oldest banks. It was established as a Colonial Bank in 1917 and from 1925 until the 1970s was owned by Barclays. The bank is headquartered in Lagos and it has about 340 branches across Nigeria.