OPIC partners with Atlas Mara in $300 mln Africa lending project

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the U.S. government’s development finance institution, is partnering with Atlas Mara Limited to provide $300 million for acquisition finance and on-lending across Africa. OPIC is kicking in $200 million of long-term debt and Atlas Mara is investing $100 million of committed resources as part of the partnership.

Press Release

Atlas Mara Limited (“Atlas Mara” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce that the Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (“OPIC”), the U.S. government’s development finance institution, has approved $200 million in financing in support of a $300 million overall project for acquisition finance and on-lending across Africa. This announcement follows President Obama’s recent historic trip to Africa. This OPIC approval is consistent with the President’s commitment to African economic development, greater participation of African countries in the global economy, and fostering African entrepreneurship and financial inclusion.

Under the terms of the agreement, OPIC will provide $200 million in long-term debt and Atlas Mara is providing $100 million of committed resources — for a combined $300 million project. The project will have a positive developmental impact enhancing one of sub-Saharan African’s fastest growing financial institutions. The project will support BancABC — Atlas Mara’s Southern African banking platform — by expanding operations in the region. BancABC will scale up its SME loan portfolio, increase on-lending for financial inclusion products, and invest in information technology upgrades to quicken implementation of its new financial technology and mobile banking initiatives. Together these initiatives will enable Atlas Mara to increase its presence in sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, $130 million of OPIC’s $200 million debt under this project will be dedicated towards financing strategic acquisitions to facilitate expansion of Atlas Mara’s platform, footprint, and channels bolstering its developmental impact reach. Final closing of terms and conditions is anticipated during the fall of 2015.

Elizabeth Littlefield, President and CEO of OPIC said: “OPIC is delighted to be able to partner with the first-rate international management team at Atlas Mara to help create a premiere banking group for Africa and serve the needs of unbanked citizens and businesses. This partnership will create financial inclusion programs and access to funding for SMEs, increase the proliferation of mobile solutions and instill best practices for durable economic development.”

John Vitalo, CEO of Atlas Mara: “This partnership with OPIC is a significant milestone for Atlas Mara. It will enable us to further accelerate our growth strategy and to deliver on our stated goals of being an innovation-driven, scale player and contributing positively to the communities in which we operate, particularly with respect to increasing access to financial products and services to the under-banked. This project also serves as a powerful endorsement of our thesis regarding the prospects for sub-Saharan African financial services and Atlas Mara.”

Blessing Mudavanhu, Acting CEO of BancABC: “BancABC is delighted to have been selected by OPIC in this landmark initiative which validates our strategy and local expertise. We have greatly benefitted from Atlas Mara’s vision, and look forward to executing on building sub-Saharan Africa’s premier financial institution.”

About Overseas Private Investment Corporation
OPIC is the U.S. Government’s development finance institution. It mobilizes private capital to help address critical development challenges and in doing so, advances U.S. foreign policy and national security priorities. Because OPIC works with the U.S. private sector, it helps U.S. businesses gain footholds in emerging markets, catalyzing revenues, jobs and growth opportunities both at home and abroad. OPIC achieves its mission by providing investors with financing, political risk insurance, and support for private equity investment funds, when commercial funding cannot be obtained elsewhere. Established as an agency of the U.S. Government in 1971, OPIC operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to American taxpayers.

All OPIC projects adhere to high environmental and social standards and respect human rights, including worker’s rights. By mandating high standards, OPIC helps raise the industry and regional standards of the countries in which its projects operate. OPIC services are available for new and expanding business enterprises in more than 160 countries worldwide. Learn more at www.opic.gov.

About Atlas Mara
Atlas Mara was formed by Bob Diamond, CEO and Founder of Atlas Merchant Capital LLC, and Ashish J. Thakkar, Founder of Mara Group Holdings Limited, and listed on the main market of the London Stock Exchange in December 2013.

Atlas Mara’s strategy is to create Sub-Saharan Africa’s premier financial services institution through a combination of its experience, expertise and access to capital, liquidity and funding. The goals are to combine the best of global institutional knowledge with extensive local insights and to support economic growth and financial inclusion in the countries in which the Company operates.