Bob Diamond to return to London with African venture

Bob Diamond to return to London with African venture

The vehicle is being set-up to acquire a controlling stake in an African financial services business, and the float will mark Mr Diamond’s return to the City following his resignation from Barclays amid the furore over interest rate rigging last year. Given Mr Diamond’s banking background, Atlas Mara is expected to buy into a bank.

Both Mara, which has interests in 19 African countries ranging from technology, manufacturing and agriculture, and merchant bank Atlas Merchant Capital are expected to take stakes in the cash shell. The ex-Barclays boss founded New York-based Atlas Merchant following his departure from the bank.

Mr Diamond is known to hold a long-standing interest in Africa and Atlas Mara is a play on growth in the continent. Mr Diamond’s family foundation invests in Africa, and he was also closely involved with Barclays’ push into the continent.

He resigned from the British lender in July last year after the bank was fined £290m for attempting to manipulate Libor, the interbank lending rate, between 2005 and 2009.

The scandal engulfed a number of banks, but the spotlight is set to return to Barclays next year, when Mr Diamond and other former executives are called as witnesses in a court case linked to Libor-rigging. They will appear at a trial over claims Barclays mis-sold interest rate hedging products to Guardian Care Homes.

A spokesman for Mr Diamond declined to comment on the Atlas Mara flotation, which will be managed by Citigroup.

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