Bob Diamond says Atlas Mara close to buying another African bank

Atlas Mara Ltd., the African finance company co-founded by former Barclays Plc boss  Bob Diamond, is close to buying another bank on the continent.

The target is in one of seven African countries where Atlas Mara already owns a lender, Diamond said at the London Business School’s Africa Business Summit on Saturday. He declined to say whether the target was Barclays’ African unit, after disclosing last month that his company was in talks to acquire that business. Speaking on Saturday, he declined to say whether Atlas Mara’s board has approved that bid.

Diamond said his growth plans were underpinned by expectations that Africa would be the biggest driver of economic growth globally over the next 25 years, supplanting China, which is slowing down. At the same time, he sees opportunities in countries such as Nigeria as low commodity prices reduce acquisition costs.

“We’re building an African bank,” he said. “The big global banks aren’t going to build an African bank.” His plan is to create “the premier financial services business across Africa,” operating in 10 to 15 key countries, he said.

– Bloomberg