In linking with US-based Carlyle, Diamond will be hoping to start to amass the financial fire power needed to bid for the business in Africa that Barclays is selling.
Diamond – who left Barclays in the wake of the 2012 Libor rigging scandal – was cited as being interested in Barclays African operations last month, just days after the bank had announced it intended to scale back on the continent.
Until now his interest had been associated with Atlas Mara, an operation listed on the London Stock Exchange and worth just £250m – a fraction of what would be needed to buy all the Barclays’ operations.
On Sunday, however, Sky News reported that Diamond was using his New York-based investment vehicle Altas Merchant Capital – which in turn owns a state in Atlas Mara – to consider any bid for the African business of Barclays.
The plans are at an early stage and no formal approach has been made to Barclays. Both the bank and Atlas Merchant Capital declined to comment. Carlyle, which owns Addison Lee in the UK, was not immediately available.
Barclays’ chief executive, Jes Staley, who replaced Diamond’s successor Antony Jenkins in December, is selling the African operations to simplify the bank business and preserve capital.
Staley admitted it could take up to three years to reduce Barclays’ presence in Africa, which is largely held through Barclays Africa Group Limited. The bank holds a 62.3% stake in the Johannesburg stock market-listed company. Staley has also made it clear that Barclays does not need to sell all the stake, but would aim to reduce it significantly.
Barclays Africa is an intricate business with stakes in banks across the continent, including Absa, the South African bank Barclays bought a stake in 10 years ago.
Staley is preparing to attend his first Barclays annual meeting as chief executive this week and is expected to face questions about his plan to cut the bank’s dividend for this year and 2017.
The divi cut, announced last month, surprised investors as only a few months earlier Barclays’ chairman John McFarlane had been expressing hopes for bolstering both the share price and the dividend.
Shares in Barclays have fallen by more than a fifth since the start of the year – the largest decline of the UK’s big four banks.
This article was written by Jill Treanor, for theguardian.com on Sunday 24th April 2016 22.31 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010