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Foreign investors swoop on local banks

FOREIGN investors have come to the rescue of indigenous banks amid indications a Russian investor is interested in acquiring Tetrad Investment Bank. Banking sources said this week Russians were locked in delicate negotiations to take over Tetrad.

Chris Muronzi

This comes a few hours after a group led by former Barclays plc chief Bob Diamond and Africa’s youngest billionaire — Ashish Thakkar — signed a deal to take over one of Zimbabwe’s most respected indigenous financial institutions, ABC Holdings.

Thakkar will this morning speak at AMH Events’ inaugural Game Changer dialogue series — launched in March last year in the Zimbabwe Independent — in Harare at the Celebration Centre in Borrowdale.

Only last month, a Mauritian-based consortium headed by a former Wall Street banker took over Allied Bank.

Allied Fund, a Mauritian-based fund, will control Allied Financial Holdings while the shareholders of the bank will immediately unlock US$30 million in capital.

Terence Mukupe, who worked for the Royal Bank of Scotland in New York, leads a consortium of international bankers — Knox Lawrence, a private equity firm; and Renaissance Capital Zimbabwe, a local division of the leading Russian investment banking firm that operates in high-opportunity emerging markets — as chief executive officer. Debbie Peters, a seasoned Wall Street banker, is understood to be part of the Allied Fund.

Atlas Mara Co-Nvest Ltd announced this week it is eyeing a controlling stake in pan-African banking group, ABC Holdings, in a transaction worth US$265 million as the London Stock Exchange-listed firm moves into the Sadc region.

ABC Holdings has banking operations in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania. Sources said a Russian investor was close to finalising a deal with Tetrad, but senior bank executives remained mum, citing confidentiality agreements.

Atlas Merchant Capital plc and Mara Group Holdings are led by Diamond and Thakkar, the founder of diversified African investment group Mara.

The deal entails Atlas Mara buying 50,1% from selected shareholders in cash or swap, buying Africa Development Corporation’s 37% stake in the banking group through cash or share swap and buying out minority shareholders representing 12%.

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