Carlyle, Bob Diamond’s Atlas planning bid for Barclays Africa

25 Apr 2016
Financial Nigeria


- According to the Wall Street Journal, Carlyle and Atlas Merchant Capital are jointly raising funds to acquire Barclays’ stake in Barclays Africa.

David M. Rubenstein, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, The Carlyle Group

Carlyle Group, a major US private equity firm, has reportedly joined forces with Atlas Merchant Capital, the US-based investment vehicle of Bob Diamond  – former CEO of UK-based Barclays – to prepare a bid for Barclays Africa Group.

People familiar with the discussions told the Wall Street Journal on Sunday that Carlyle and Atlas Merchant Capital are jointly raising funds although no formal offer has been made to Barclays yet.

In March, Jes Staley, Barclays’ CEO, said the UK banking giant was planning to sell-off a big chunk of its 62.3 stake in Barclays Africa Group to focus on its core markets in the UK and US. Staley also cited increasingly onerous capital requirements demanded by UK regulators to cover for its African unit as reasons for the sale. (Aside from Barclays Africa, Staley said Barclays would also sell-off its stake in separate operations in Egypt and Zimbabwe).

Barclays Africa is the third biggest bank by assets in South Africa, with 1,267 branches spread across 12 African countries, including Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Uganda. In February last year, Barclays Africa announced that it applied for an investment-banking licence from the Central Bank of Nigeria. Analysts estimate that Barclays’ stake in Barclays Africa is worth about $8.2 billion.

Unlike several other African and foreign banks who have expressed interest in Barclays Africa Group, Diamond’s Atlas Merchant Capital and Carlyle Group are preparing to bid for Barclays’ entire stake in the South African bank.

The deal may also include Ashish Thakkar, the 34-year-old billionaire CEO of the Mara Group, who teamed up with Diamond in 2013 to launch Atlas Mara, a London-listed firm that invests in African banks. However, due to UK banking regulations, Atlas Mara, with a market capitalization of about $300 million, is reportedly prohibited from bidding for a larger entity such as Barclays Africa. (Atlas Mara owns 20.89 percent stake in Union Bank of Nigeria).

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