Greek bank is Diamond’s first move into Europe

A private equity fund co-founded by Bob Diamond, the former boss of Barclays, has bought a Greek bank, marking the firm’s first investment in Europe since opening four years ago.

Atlas Merchant Capital (AMC) has bought Credicom Consumer Finance Bank, a specialist Greek automotive lender, from Crédit Agricole, the French financial group, as it looks to deliver on its promise to buy businesses from Europe’s struggling banks.

Terms were not disclosed but Mr Diamond said: “We believe that European financial services represent attractive investment opportunities, particularly for a firm like AMC, which has such strong operating expertise.”

AMC said it thought that there was a “significant opportunity” in the Greek market and that its focus was on turning Credicom into a merchant bank specialising in working for the country’s entrepreneurs and businesses.

Running the bank will be Anthimos Thomopoulos, most recently chief executive of Piraeus Bank, one of Greece’s largest lenders. Matthew Hansen, head of the UK and Europe for AMC, said: “Buying operating businesses and platforms is at the core of what AMC does and we see significant opportunity in the Hellenic market.”

AMC has not disclosed how much money it is managing but in a 2015 filing the firm said that it was aiming to raise $1 billion to invest in banks and other financial services providers.

The Credicom takeover comes four months after AMC bought Somerset Reinsurance, a Bermuda-registered life reinsurer, five months after its investment in South Street Securities, a provider of financing to banks and other large players in the capital markets.

Mr Diamond founded AMC in 2013 with David Schamis, a former managing director at JC Flowers, the US specialist financial services buyout firm.

AMC’s first investment was in Atlas Mara, the London-listed African banking industry buyout vehicle, also co-founded by Mr Diamond. Atlas Mara has struggled of late and this month announced the departure of John Vitalo, its original chief executive.

Shares in Atlas Mara have lost more than 80 per cent of their value since the firm floated in 2013. Mr Diamond recently stepped in as interim chairman.

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