Atlas Mara gives ABCH minority shareholders ultimatum

HARARE - Atlas Mara Co-Nvest Limited (Atlas Mara) has given minority shareholders an ultimatum to sell their shares within six weeks to the United Kingdom-based company for $0,82 per share.

This comes after shareholders holding 1,3 percent (3,34 million shares) of Pan African banking group ABC Holdings in November last year declined a mandatory takeover offer from Atlas Mara.

“If you are a shareholder who does not wish to accept the offer on the terms set out, you are advised that you have six weeks from the date of this notice to bring an application to the High Court in Gaborone Botswana, to show why Atlas Mara should not acquire your shares,” said Atlas Mara.

The investment firm noted that if a minority shareholder does not make any application, at the end of the six week period, Atlas Mara will be registered as the holder of the minority shares, with the shareholder getting $0,82 per share.

In April last year, Atlas Mara — founded by Bob Diamond and billionaire Ashish Thakkar in 2013 — announced its intention to acquire the pan-African banking group, and announced the group was going to be delisted from the Botswana and Zimbabwe bourses after the acquisition.

The increase in Atlas Mara’s stake in BancABC comes as the investment firm remains optimistic in the prospects of financial services growth in Sub-Saharan Africa.

It says it has the ability to establish an institution, which, through a combination of experience, operational expertise and access to capital, liquidity and funding, can become a leader in the sector.

Atlas Mara was born out of a combination of Diamond’s Atlas Merchant Capital LLC and African entrepreneur Ashish Thakkar’s Mara Group Holdings Limited.

Former Barclays PLC chief executive Diamond is looking to take his former bank’s strategy of focusing on expanding African operations with acquisitions spread across the continent.

Apart from the  $265 million ABC deal, last year, Atlas upped its stake in Union Bank of Nigeria from about nine percent to just below 30 percent for a $270 million consideration.

It later signed a deal to buy 77 percent of the Development Bank of Rwanda, establishing a platform for Atlas’ expansion into the east African region.

Union Bank is one of Nigeria’s most established banks with a network of 340 branches across the country.

It was hard hit in Nigeria’s 2009 banking crash and was one of eight lenders that had to be bailed out — to the tune of $4 billion — by the central bank.

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