Zenith and Access Bank are among the list of financial institutions from Africa and the Middle East to indicate interest in the acquisition of Union Bank and other African assets of Atlas Mara Group, a Pan-African banking group.
Bloomberg which disclosed this quoted sources familiar with the matter to have disclosed that Atlas Mara Limited, the London Stock Exchange-listed pan-African banking group started by Mr. Bob Diamond has received a number of approaches for its 49.97 per cent holding in Lagos-based Union Bank of Nigeria.
The report lists Zenith Bank and Access Bank Plc among those who expressed interest in acquiring the bank including Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank.
The report also noted that it’s uncertain whether the talks will lead to a transaction, though Atlas Mara has been working with Rothschild & Co. to consider options for its Union Bank stake.
Middle Eastern banks and private equity suitors have also shown interest as some of the potential buyers have indicated they may acquire all of Atlas Mara’s remaining assets in Africa, which would include its Zimbabwe unit.
Although no final decision has been taken yet as there is still a lot of uncertainty around the discussions, Atlas Mara has been working with Rothschild & Co. to consider options for its Union Bank stake, the report suggests.
The sale of Union Bank is part of the investment company’s decision to exit Africa. While the Nigerian lender is its biggest footprint in Africa, the company is also planning on selling other African assets.
Its investment in Botswana and Mozambique are also going to be sold, as Atlas Mara, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, has received regulatory approval for the sales of its businesses.
This will likely bring to an end, the incursion of Bob Diamond, the founder of Atlas Mara Limited and a former Chief Executive of Barclays Bank Plc, into the African financial market, after misjudging competition on the continent and overpaying for acquisitions.
As a result of the pandemic, Atlas Mara Limited lost shares worth about 96 per cent since it started trading towards the end of 2013. The stake in UBN held by the company is Nigeria’s sixth largest bank by market value.