Bob Diamond Courts Pimco, Fidelity in Trading Push at Atlas Mara

(Bloomberg) -- Bob Diamond’s African retail banking venture is getting a boost from some of the biggest names in finance.

Atlas Mara Ltd., the company formed by the ex-Barclays Plc chief, posted a jump in 2017 revenue from its markets unit that trades currencies, debt and interest rates. Diamond said in a interview Tuesday that the firm has already won clients including Pacific Investment Management Co. and Fidelity Investments, as well as Wellington Management Group, which is also one of its biggest shareholders.

“That’s where a lot of the growth will come from,” he said. “International investors are a tiny part of the business right now, and will be at least 50 percent of the business going forward.”

Sales and trading revenue jumped 16 percent to $26.7 million in 2017, according to a presentation. That pushed trading to more than 10 percent of the firm’s total revenue.

“For many types of clients in Africa, this kind of business is new because there hasn’t been a lot of cross-border trade,” said Diamond, who grew Barclays’ debt business during his more than two decades at the firm. “As the economy picks up and cross-border trade picks up, there will be significantly more need to hedge out currencies.”

While the money involved is a fraction of what Diamond used to oversee, the fortunes of Atlas Mara’s markets unit contrasted with those of his former employer and old rivals on Wall Street. Revenue from fixed-income trading at the world’s biggest investment banks declined 12 percent to $60 billion in 2017 as firms including Barclays struggled with low volatility.

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