As a follow-up to my blog post last week about African private equity, there was the announcement today, that Atlas Mara was acquiring a 45 % stake in Banque Poplaire du Rwanda and merge it with an existing bank to create Rwanda’s largest bank by branches and second largest by assets. AtlasMara was the investment vehicle set up by former Barclay’s CEO, Bob Diamond and Ugandan / British entrepreneur Ashish Thakar to take advantage of the growing African economies by investing in African banking assets.
How does this relate to London, and London pioneers? First off, they raised a fairly substantial $625 million in equity capital since its IPO on the London Stock Exchange. Secondly, it aims to apply Western technology, governance and leadership expertise to frontier markets. Finally, it’s a pioneer– this London based-firm aims to be a positive disruptive force in Sub-Saharan Africa. A totally unique vehicle giving investors a pure play on a diversified cross section of the African financial sector combined with the advantages of UK regulation and a listing on the LSE. And for the institutions in Africa that it invests in, a new source of capital. It’s another example of how entrepreneurs, both big and small have to continually think out of the box when thinking of sources of capital.
By Ashok Parekh, Director of Investment Services