Atlas Mara, Crane Bank’s reported suitor, releases Q3 results; silent on bid

Atlas Mara, the financial services group that has been named as one of the possible buyers of Crane Bank, has released unaudited 3rd quarter financial statements showing a 77.5% year-on-year drop in after tax profit for the nine months ended 30 September.

After-tax profit for the period was $4.0 million versus $7.1 million in the same period last year. However, profit in the quarter rose 55.5% to $2.7 million compared to the $1.2 million reported for the first two quarters of 2016.

The company’s statements make no mention of its reported interest in Crane Bank, whose management was taken over by Bank of Uganda last week. Atlas Mara was founded by Bob Diamond, Barclays Plc former chief executive, and Ashish Thakkar, a businessman born in the UK to Ugandan Asians. It is incorporated in the British Virgin Islands and listed on the London Stock Exchange.

The group’s stated aim is to build a banking empire in sub-Saharan Africa through acquisitions.

The results show that acquisitions were responsible for a 19% year-on-year increase in expenses to $175.3 million. The group acquired Banque Populaire du Rwanda in Rwanda this January and Zambia’s Finance Bank Zambia in July. It says $7.9 million was spent on restructuring and reorganising the banks, hence the increase in expenses.

Total income for the period increased to $177 million compared to $154.4 million in the same period last year due to a rise in non-interest income.

Atlas Mara has stakes in banks in Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Mozambique and Botswana.

The group’s “strategy of buying, protecting and growing sub-Saharan Africa banks hasn’t changed,” its chief executive, John Vitalo, is quoted as saying.  “What has changed is how we are going about achieving our objective of becoming the region’s premier financial institution. We have been emphasising cost controls, streamlining operations and growing our digital initiatives and our markets and treasury business as a key focus during Q3 and will continue this focus for the rest of the year and into 2017.”