Bob Diamond could face grilling by shareholders over Barclays Africa bid

Bob Diamond at World Economic Forum

Bob Diamond is expected to face questions on Tuesday about his ambitions to mount an offer for the African arm of Barclays, the bank he used to run until 2012.

The former Barclays chief executive, who was forced out of the bank in the wake of the Libor rigging crisis, is expected to address shareholders in his existing banking venture in Africa, Atlas Mara, when it publishes its results on Tuesday.

Diamond has secured backing from the private equity firm Carlyle to help table an offer for Barclays’ African operation. The business is expected to fetch about $5bn (£3.5bn). The American banker is said to be aiming to mount an offer through his New York-based investment vehicle Atlas Merchant Capital, rather than Atlas Mara, which is listed on the London stock market.

Barclays is understood to have some contact with Diamond about his ambitions, which would also likely require him to link up with other investors. Among those reported to be likely backers are Ashish Thakkar, founder of the Mara conglomerate – which has operations in varied business lines across Africa – and Diamond’s partner in Atlas Mara. This would raise questions about the relationship with Atlas Mara, which has a stock market value of about £250m and is worth a third of what it was when it was floated in December 2013, and whether it could be subsumed into the bigger operation.

The day-to-day operations of Atlas Mara are run by John Vitalo, who is a former senior executive at Barclays Africa. He is likely to end up with a key role in any enlarged business.

Barclays will ask its shareholders for approval to proceed with the sale of the African business in a meeting that is being convened immediately after its annual general meeting on Thursday. In the circular to shareholders to explain why it wanted to sell Barclays Africa it said the “current intention of the board is to retain a meaningful stake”.

The chief executive of Barclays, Jes Staley, surprised the City by announcing last month that he wanted to scale back in Africa and reduce the 62.3% stake the bank owns in Barclays Africa Group Limited, which is listed on the Johannesburg stock market.

The African operation is a complexly structured business with stakes in a number of banks, including Absa, the South African bank Barclays bought a stake in 10 years ago.

Barclays is due to publish its first quarter results on Wednesday, the day before the AGM. Barclays, Atlas Mara and Atlas Merchant Capital declined to comment.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Jill Treanor, for theguardian.com on Monday 25th April 2016 19.24 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

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