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Former Barclays CEO returns to banking, set to invest in Africa- source

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December 8
8:47 PM 2013

A source told Reuters that former Barclays Chief Executive Bob Diamond will be making a banking return in the next few weeks by listing Atlas Mara, a shell company, in London. The firm is set to invest in the financial sector in Africa. Atlas Mara is a cash vehicle that Diamond established with Mara Group Chief Executive Officer Ashish Thakkar, a billionaire entrepreneur.

According to the report, Atlas Merchant Capital will be managing Atlas Mara. Diamond established Atlas Merchant Capital in New York with the aim of expanding into banks and financial services into sub-Sahara Africa. The person said that Citigroup is advising the vehicle.

The Financial Times reported over the weekend that Diamond and Thakkar already approached investors to be able to raise USD 250 million for the vehicle. The report said Atlas Mara intends to purchase a stake in an African lender. If the roadshow and capital raising will succeed as planned, the report said the vehicle plans to list on the London Stock Exchange within 10 to 15 days.

Diamond left Barclays in July 2012 due to the Libor rate-rigging scandal. A USD 450 million fine was imposed on Barclays for allegedly manipulating the Libor interbank lending rate. Reuters reported that the lender was the first to be fined for Libor rate-rigging. However, UBS, Royal Bank of Scotland and Rabobank have since been slapped with heftier fines.

According to the report, Diamond was credited for turning Baclays' investment bank into a powerhouse globally for over a decade. However, his departure highlighted the poor relationship he had with regulators who said Diamond "sailed too close to the wind" since he took the helm in 2011. He kept a low profile after his stint at Barclays but has been open about his investment plans in Africa where much of his family foundation's work is located, the report said.

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