Former Barclays CEO Forms New Africa Acquisition Vehicle

The former chief executive of Barclays Plc and the founder of Mara Group Holdings Ltd. have raised $325 million to invest in opportunities in Africa.

The newly created firm, Atlas Mara Co-Nvest Ltd, is a joint venture between Atlas Merchant Capital LLC and Mara Group Holdings Limited

Ashish Thakkar, founder of Mara Group

Merchant was founded by Bob Diamond, who was ousted as chief executive of Barclays. Mara is a firm owned by Ashish Thakkar, a 32-year old entrepreneur from Uganda.

Atlas Mara expects to focus on acquiring a company or business in the financial services sector with all or a substantial portion of its operations in Africa.

In a regulatory filing on Dec. 17, the company said its directors believe that there are significant gaps in the market today including the need for capital created by European financial institutions retreating to their home territories due to the sovereign debt crisis and the Basel III regulatory framework at a critical time for growth in Africa.

“This situation presents opportunities for the company to execute the acquisition and to create a financial institution that provides leadership, liquidity, access to investors, product innovation, and technology to support economic growth and strengthen financial systems in Africa,” the filing states.

Atlas Mara said it currently has no specific expected target value for the acquisition and expects that any funds not used for the Acquisition will be used for future acquisitions, internal or external growth and expansion, and working capital in relation to the acquired company or business.

Diamond resigned as chief executive of Barclays on July 3, 2012, following controversy over manipulation of Libor interest rates by traders employed by the bank.

Thakkar started his first company at the age of 15, 1996, when he borrowed $5,000 to start a company that bought and sold computers. Since then he has built a conglomerate of IT, real estate and manufacturing companies with operations in 19 African countries and 21 countries worldwide, employing over 8,000 people through its investments and operations.

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