Access Bank, Nigeria’s biggest bank by customer base, is in talks to acquire some assets belonging to Atlas Mara Limited, a financial services group, in order to expand its reach on the continent.
Bloomberg reports that Access Bank is interested in Atlas Mara’s businesses in Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia, however, the report said deliberations are still at preliminary stages and no final decision has been made.
If successful, it will mark the second transaction between Atlas Mara and Access Bank after agreeing to buy its Mozambique unit in September 2020.
The deal will also leave Atlas Mara with its largest investment, a 49.97 percent stake in Union Bank of Nigeria.
Zambia was listed among Atlas Mara’s discontinued operations in its first-half (H1) 2020 earnings report.
“Our operations in Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Rwanda still remain classified as discontinued operations as the Group is still committed to implementing the strategic decision to dispose of these subsidiaries and continues to actively evaluate several options with the objective of completing a strategic transaction in 2020,” Atlas Mara’s H1 2020 interim report read.
Bloomberg said Atlas Mara, which has lost 96 percent of its value since listing on 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.
Atlas Mara also said that it is in talks with principal holders of $81 million of convertible bonds due on December 31, 2020 and other creditors “regarding a range of options to address the upcoming debt maturities”.
Meanwhile, 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.
The bank recently invested in Grobank Limited South Africa, that counts Fairfax Africa Holdings among its shareholders, while Herbert Wigwe, chief executive officer of Access Bank, says he is also targeting Angola, Senegal, Liberia, and Ivory Coast for growth.