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The woes of Bob Diamond’s London-listed vehicle to invest in African banks have deepened after it announced the immediate departure of its chief executive and raised extra funds from an overnight placing.

Atlas Mara said it would appoint a replacement “in due course” for John Vitalo, who worked for Mr Diamond when he ran Barclays and followed the swashbuckling American investment banker after he left the British bank to help set up his new African banking venture.

Mr Vitalo, who became the first CEO of Atlas Mara after its creation in 2013, stepped down on Wednesday.

His departure is the latest blow for the company, which reported a 71 per cent drop in profits in the first half of last year and recently announced the departure of Arnold Ekpe, the veteran African banker, as its chairman.

Atlas Mara said it had raised $13.5m from a placement of just over 7m shares to a number of existing shareholders in the company, including Mr Diamond, who has been interim chairman since Mr Ekpe left.

The company also announced a new organisation around three units: commercial and retail banking; fintech; and markets and treasury. It said the change would “enable faster expansion and responsiveness in the market environment” and added that it planned to cut $20m of operating and staff costs.

Aiming to create the first pan-African banking group based on new digital technologies, Atlas Mara has acquired interests in seven sub-Saharan countries, including Nigeria, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia.

Its shares, which have steadily declined from more than $12, were down slightly at $2.10 on Thursday morning.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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