Former Barclays boss to acquire ABCH

HARARE - Atlas Mara Co-Nvest Limited (Atlas Mara) is set to acquire banking group ABC Holdings (ABCH) and its major shareholder AfricanDevelopment Corporation (ADC) in a $265 million cash and shares deal.

Under the transaction, Atlas Mara — co-founded by former Barclays Plc’s chief executive Robert Diamond and Africa’s youngest millionaire Ashish Thakkar — will acquire BancABC’s shares in excess of 50,1 percent of total shares outstanding for $0,82 per share or the equivalent in the former’s shares.

Its objective is to build a premier sub-Saharan financial services group through ABCH’s regional banking arm, BancABC.

It also intends to make a public share-for-share takeover offer for ADC’s 37 percent stake at an exchange ratio of 1,25 times Atlas Mara shares per ADC share.

This translates to an 88 percent shareholding after which the remaining 12 percent of BancABC shares will be acquired in a mandatory offer to minority shareholders at a price of $0,82 per share or the Atlas Mara share equivalent. The investments holding company expects to fund the acquisition via proceeds of its previously-completed initial public offer, which raised $325 million, and the issuance of shares.

“In the case of the mandatory offer for the outstanding shares in ABCH, relevant approvals and conditions will be detailed in an offer document to be circulated to ABCH shareholders,” Atlas Mara said.

Atlas Mara was formed by Atlas Merchant Capital LLC and Mara Group Holdings Limited and listed on the main market of the London Stock Exchange in December 2013.

Meanwhile, the deal is subject to fulfilment of certain conditions, including relevant regulatory and merger control approvals and launch of voluntary offer for ADC.

Atlas Mara plans to immediately inject up to $100 million into BancABC to support growth as it has long-term strategic focus on integrating its presence across sub-Saharan Africa. The banking services group is poised to benefit from rising trade flows and utilisation of financial services in the Sadc region.

BancABC offers financial services in Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Recently, ABCH said it sought $360 million to capacitate it to be a lender-of-last-resort to BancABC.

Last year, the group secured $135 million in lines of credit out of which $95 million was invested directly in the parent company while the balance was invested in its Zimbabwean operations.

“Going forward, we would like the centre to be the lender of last resort to subsidiaries.

“To this end, negotiations with various investors are at an advanced stage and if successful we could raise up to $360 million in various instruments in the coming months,” said the group’s chairperson Howard Buttery.

In the full year to December 31, 2013 the dual listed financial services group registered a 49 percent increase in profit to 198 million Botswana pula (BWP) compared to BWP133 million recorded in prior year.


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