Atlas Mara records $4m profit

HARARE - London-listed Stock Exchange-listed financial services group, Atlas Mara, has recorded a $4 million profit in the nine months to September 2016, down 44 percent from $7,1 million registered in the same period last year.

Atlas Mara, which owns BancABC Zimbabwe, yesterday attributed the decline in profits to falling currencies in Africa.

“Although uncertainty around the economic environment, exchange rates and monetary policies in our markets make near term forecasts difficult, we expect the improving operational momentum” to continue, Atlas Mara said.

The British Virgin Islands incorporated firm saw its deposits rising 32 percent in the period under review on a constant currency basis and loans extended during the period increased 23 percent, while costs excluding acquisitions increased 6,5 percent, the company said.

Atlas Mara, which invests in African banks, has lost more than 73 percent of its value since an initial public offering in December 2013. It started a cost-cutting exercise earlier this year as expenses engulfed income and threatened its ability to grow by acquisition.

The group’s chief executive John Vitalo said Atlas Mara’s strategy of buying, protecting and growing sub-Saharan Africa banks has not changed.

“What has changed is how we are going about achieving our objective of becoming the region’s premier financial institution. We have been emphasising cost controls, streamlining operations and growing our digital initiatives and our markets and treasury business as a key focus during the third and will continue this focus for the rest of the year and into 2017,” he said.

Vitalo added that Atlas Mara’s current results demonstrate that the company is on the right path.

The financial services firm’s markets and treasury business grew by more than a 100 percent to contribute $26 million to revenue this year.

“Of the projected $8 million cost savings that were announced in our half year results, $10 million has been achieved within both the shared services and centre and country operating level. We expect the improving trend in the profitability of our business attained over the last two quarters to continue as we execute on our focused strategy. We remain enthused and are geared to benefit from the long term growth in sub-Saharan Africa,” he said.

The Africa-focused firm reported a $5,2 million adverse currency impact, while non-performing loans as a percentage of the loan book were 15 percent.

Atlas Mara — co-founded by former Barclays Plc chief executive Bob Diamond —  seeks to create sub-Saharan Africa’s premier financial services institution through a combination of its experience, expertise and access to capital, liquidity and funding.

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