October 3, 2017 / 2:23 PM / 18 days ago

Co-founder Thakkar steps down from Atlas Mara

LONDON, Oct 3 (IFR) - Ashish Thakkar, the entrepreneur who co-founded Atlas Mara with Bob Diamond, has stepped down from the African bank’s board following the investment by Fairfax as part of a revival plan.

Diamond, the former chief executive of Barclays, teamed up with Thakkar to set up Atlas Mara at the end of 2013, with the aim of creating the leading bank in sub-Saharan Africa.

But the bank has had a troubled first three years, and in June it unveiled the investment from Fairfax Africa, alongside existing shareholders, to improve its fortunes.

Atlas Mara said on Tuesday Thakkar and Tonye Cole, a founding director and chair of the nomination committee, had stepped down from its board. Michael Wilkerson, Richard Boucher, Quinn McLean and Hisham Ezz Al-Arab joined as new directors - all Fairfax appointees. Diamond is executive chairman.

Fairfax ended up investing US$159m in Atlas Mara for a 42% stake. Fairfax Africa is part of Canadian investment firm Fairfax Financial, led by Prem Watsa, to invest in African assets.

Atlas Mara also said Arina McDonald had stepped down as chief financial officer to move back to South Africa for personal reasons. Kenroy Dowers, head of strategy and investments, will become finance chief on an interim basis.

Atlas Mara said it remained on track with its profit and cost savings goals announced earlier this year.

The shares were unchanged at US$2.7. They have risen 44% this year but are way below their IPO price of US$10 in December 2013. (Reporting by Steve Slater)

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