Union Bank majority owner, Atlas Mara appoints Michael Wilkerson as chairman

Atlas Mara

Sub-Saharan Africa financial services investor, Atlas Mara said it has appointed Mr. Michael Wilkerson as its Executive Chairman.

He is taking over from Atlas Mara’s founder, Bob Diamond who has decided to transition from his role of Chairman and return to his role as a non-executive director of the Board, to enable him to increase his focus on his other executive roles while continuing to contribute actively to Atlas Mara’s growth and strategic direction.

As previously announced, Mr. Diamond assumed the role of Chairman on an interim basis with the expectation that a new Chairman would be appointed in due course.

He has served as Chairman for two years, guiding Atlas Mara through a substantial transformation, including its strategic financing with Fairfax Africa and the increase in its ownership of UBN from 31% to 49%.

Mr. Wilkerson currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of Fairfax Africa, a TSX-listed company focused on investments in Africa, and the largest shareholder in Atlas Mara.

In other changes, Funke Opeke, Chair of the Nominations Committee and Hisham Ezz Al-Arab have resigned as directors of Atlas Mara to focus on their leadership responsibilities with other companies, as CEO and as Chairman and Managing Director, respectively. The Board has appointed Mr. Diamond to assume the role of Chair of the Nominations Committee in place of Ms. Opeke.

The Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Jawaid Mirza as an independent non-executive member of the Board, effective April 1, 2019. Mr. Mirza has over 30 years of experience in banking with global financial institutions, including senior executive positions with Citibank and ABN AMRO Bank. He served as ABN AMRO’s CFO European Region, Managing Director and COO for Global Private Banking, Asset Management and New Growth Markets, and Managing Director and CFO for Asia, Middle East and Australia. Mr. Mirza also served as Group COO and later CEO and Managing Director for Consumer & Commercial at Commercial International Bank of Egypt.

Mr. Mirza is currently an independent non-executive board member of Eurobank Ergasias (Athens), where he chairs the Audit Committee and is a member of the Risk Committee, and of Commercial International Bank (“CIB”) of Egypt, where he chairs the Audit Committee and is a member of the Risk and Board Technology & Operations committees. He is also a non-executive board member of the South African Bank of Athens.

Mr. Diamond said, “I am excited to return to my original role on the Board and to continue to partner with Michael to accelerate the execution of our strategy. My belief in our ambition – to create a premier sub-Saharan African financial institution to better serve continental and global customers – remains as strong as the day we founded the Company.”

Mr. Diamond also said of the transitions, “On behalf of the Board, I want to thank Funke and Hisham for their valuable contributions to the growth and strategic direction of Atlas Mara. They provided extraordinary service and leadership, and we wish them all the best with their companies. I am also excited to work with Jawaid, who I know will bring incredible value to the Board.”

Mr. Wilkerson said, “On behalf of the Board of Directors and the Company, I want to express our gratitude to Bob for his leadership as Chairman through the challenging times of the past two years. I look forward to continuing to work together on the Board to build on our partnership to fulfill the vision of creating a leading, sub-Saharan African financial services platform to better serve our customers and communities. Mr. Wilkerson continued, “We thank Funke and Hisham for their service and look forward to welcoming Jawaid to the Atlas Mara Board of Directors. We have high regard for Jawaid’s expertise and know that he will add substantial value to the Company going forward.”

Atlas Mara further announces that Muhammad “Omar” Khan has been appointed Chief Financial Officer of Atlas Mara effective April 2019. Kenroy Dowers, who served as Acting Chief Financial Officer, will continue in his role as Group Managing Director for Strategy and Investments. Mr. Wilkerson said, “We greatly appreciate Kenroy’s strong leadership and significant contributions as Acting CFO, and look forward to continuing to work with him.”

Mr. Khan was previously Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Commercial International Bank (“CIB”). Mr. Khan has over 24 years of banking experience in the Middle East, Asia, Europe and Canada with Citibank, ABN AMRO, Royal Bank of Scotland and CIB, among others. During this time Mr. Khan has developed expertise in a multitude of areas of banking, including Finance, Asset & Liability Management, Service & Quality, Retail, Operations, Human Resources, Project Management and Administration.