Access Bank is in talks about a potential acquisition of assets belonging to Bob Diamond’s Atlas Mara Ltd, as Nigeria’s biggest lender seeks to expand its reach in the rest of Africa, people familiar with the matter said.
Access Bank is interested in Atlas Mara’s businesses in Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia, Bloomberg reported.
If successful, Atlas Mara will still be left with its largest investment, a 49.97 percent stake in Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, which gives it a footprint in Africa’s largest economy. A deal would also mark the second transaction between Atlas Mara and Access Bank after the Nigerian lender agreed to buy its Mozambique unit at the end of September.
Atlas Mara, which has lost 96 percent of its value since listing on the London Stock Exchange in 2013, is exiting markets or seeking partners in countries where it doesn’t see opportunities to bulk up or make money. The firm last week agreed to sell its Rwandan and Tanzanian units to Kenya’s KCB Group Plc.
Access Bank plans to be present in 22 African countries over the next five years and currently operates in Sierra Leone, Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, Zambia and Congo. It recently invested in South African lender Grobank Ltd.