Tuesday 17 July 2018

Boucher on board at Diamond's Africa bank

Former Bank of Ireland CEO Richie Boucher, who grew up in Africa, is to join Atlas Mara
Former Bank of Ireland CEO Richie Boucher, who grew up in Africa, is to join Atlas Mara
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Richie Boucher has been named a director of former Barclays boss Bob Diamond's African-focused finance house Atlas Mara.

It comes after the Africa-born former Bank of Ireland CEO handed the reins at the Irish bank to new boss Francesca McDonagh.

At Atlas Mara, Boucher is one of four new directors appointed to the board after Canadian investor Prem Watsa's Fairfax signed a partnership deal with the business in June.

Boucher is close to Fairfax, an important Bank of Ireland investor in the wake of the crash, and he already serves on the board of Greek lender Eurobank Ergasias, where the Canadian firm is also an investor.

The Irish Independent reported in June that Mr Boucher was considering a role with Fairfax, advising banks within the group's portfolio.

He also has deep ties to Africa, where he was born to Irish parents in what is now Zambia and initially went to school in southern Africa before going to Ireland to do his last year of school at Rockwell College and going on to Trinity College Dublin.

Toronto-headquartered Fairfax Financial Holdings, headed by Watsa, is often dubbed the Canadian version of Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway investment firm.

Atlas Mara was established in 2013 to invest in African banks. In June this year Fairfax invested US$159m in Atlas Mara for a 42pc stake through its Fairfax Africa arm.

The deal with the business gives the Canadian backer the right to nominate four directors.

They have now been named as Mr Boucher; Fairfax executives Michael Wilkerson and Quinn McLean; and Hisham Ezz Al-Arab, chairman of Egypt's Commercial International Bank, where Fairfax has a stake.

At the same time Ashish Thakkar, who co-founded Atlas Mara has stepped down from the board, along with fellow director Tonye Cole.

Former Barclays CEO Diamond originally 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.

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 44pc this year but are way below their IPO price of US$10 in December 2013

Irish Independent

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