Former Barclays boss Bob Diamond steps down as chairman of Atlas Mara amid strategic review

Callum Keown
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Former Barclays Chief Executive Bob Diamond Gives Evidence To The Treasury Select Committee On Interest Rate Fixing
Bob Diamond has stepped down as chairman of the African banking firm he founded in 2013 (Source: Getty)

Former Barclays boss Bob Diamond has stepped down as chairman of Atlas Mara as the pan-African financial group launches a strategic review to improve performance.

Diamond, the firm’s co-founder, will retreat to the role of non-executive director, further scaling back his involvement.

Read more: Former Barclays boss Bob Diamond says banks need to take more risks

Atlas Mara has lost more than 80 per cent of its value since listing on the London Stock Exchange in 2013.

The review will see the company accelerate digital banking and agricultural initiatives and focus on investment in core markets.

It added that growth in Nigeria was a key priority and hoped to complete its takeover of the Union Bank of Nigeria, in which it currently holds a 49 per cent stake.

Following the announcement, Diamond said: “My belief in our ambition - to create a premier sub-Saharan African financial institution to better serve continental and global customers - remains as strong as the day we founded the company.”

Diamond’s role will be taken up by Michael Wilkerson, chief executive of the firm’s largest shareholder Fairfax Africa.

A further management shake up with also see former Commercial International Bank (CIB) chief operating officer Muhammad ‘Omar’ Khan become chief financial officer.

After resigning as Barclays chief executive in 2012 amid the Libor-rigging scandal, Diamond founded Atlas Mara with the hope of building a pan-African banking empire.

It has since acquired interests in seven countries, including Nigeria, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia.

Read more: Panmure Gordon grows profits after Bob Diamond-led takeover

But weakening currency in its key markets and an economic downturn has seen investors lose confidence.

In 2016 the company was unsuccessful in a bid for Barclays’ African banking operations and was left without a chief executive for more than year before appointing John Staley last April.