NewsEast & Horn AfricaUgandan entrepreneur eyes more tie-ups after deals with ex-Barclays boss

Fri,17Nov2017

Posted on Monday, 07 April 2014 08:20

Ugandan entrepreneur eyes more tie-ups after deals with ex-Barclays boss

Ashish Thakkar, CEO of Mara GroupUgandan-born entrepreneur Ashish Thakkar, whose Mara Group has teamed up with ex-Barclays boss Bob Diamond to buy banks in Africa, is also seeking international partners for mobile technology and financial services ventures.

 

Thakkar's Mara Group, which he founded in 1996 aged 16, employs 8,000 people, operates in 19 African nations, and has businesses spanning technology, financial services, manufacturing, farming and real estate.

We plan to take advantage of this growth with new offerings in financial services and mobile technology in particular

"Our strategy is to team up with international players who have industry expertise to complement our in-depth knowledge of conditions on the ground in Africa," Thakkar said in Kampala as part of the Reuters Africa Investment Summit.

"We plan to take advantage of this growth with new offerings in financial services and mobile technology in particular," he said in an emailed reply to questions.

"It is an approach that has worked well for us in the past and one that we will use more."

Atlas Mara, created by Diamond's Atlas Merchant Capital and Thakkar's Mara Group Holdings, said in March it would buy Botswana-based bank ABC Holdings (BancABC) and ADC African Development Corporation AG, in a deal valued at up to $265 million in cash and shares.

Atlas Mara is also finalising a deal for a controlling stake in state-run Development Bank of Rwanda.  

Thakkar said plans for further deals were motivated by the continent's expanding middle class and projected 5 percent economic growth rate this year.

The biggest challenge was understanding each of the varied African markets.

"Africa is diverse and has so many different cultures, languages and political nuances that to approach it as a single entity, using a copy and paste model, will get you into trouble," he said.

He said negative perceptions about a continent better known in the past for wars, famine and coups, were now changing as growth rates have shot up.

"There is now generally much more optimism surrounding Africa," he said. 



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