No. 136: Atlas Mara Still Trying to Gain Footing

Last year, I brought up Atlas Mara management getting dressed down in an investor conference call due to the lack of confidence the market had in the firm. Well, their Q1 2016 results can’t be too much more encouraging considering the $2M loss the bank posted.

Apparently, management plans to implement some cost reductions and new plans for generating revenue. We’ll see how that goes. One of the early questions about the firm was how much it was paying the management team. Will they take a pay cut?

Further, is the management team still based in Dubai? If so, perhaps they should consider making a move to the continent. Hanging around Jo’burg or Nairobi on a daily basis may strike up new observations for revenue opportunities.

Then again, I’m no expert on these things. I’ll be checking with some bankers to see what they think about Atlas Mara’s performance.

No. 107: 3 AM Reads – Okonjo-Iweala Joins Lazard | Bob Diamond Facing Criticism | Book on Antifragility

  1. Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance landed a senior advisory role with the asset management firm, Lazard, in their sovereign advisory practice. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala faced a good bit of criticism the last few years of her tenure, with the perception that she was quiet on corruption issues, unlike former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Lamido Sanusi Lamido. So, her landing a nice paying role to advise countries in the background on all things finance should be a nice break. She has consistently countered criticism with the argument that she was focused on building institutions that countered corruption. We’ll have to see how much of those systems fare now that President Muhamad Buhari has focused his energy on rooting out corruption throughout the government, even if that means not having a cabinet several months into his administration.

  2. Investors are challenging Bob Diamond to show, not tell, them about his bullishness in the growth prospects of Atlas Mara, the bank holding company he founded with Ashish Thakkar. Bob Diamond is facing criticism from investors for not putting more skin in the game by buying back shares of the company and limiting executive pay at the firm, especially with the firm’s share price halving in the nearly two years Atlas Mara has been public. Jason Calacanis’ dressing down of technology entrepreneurs who don’t have what it takes came to mind while reading the admonishment Leon Cooperman gave Diamond during their most recent conference call. It’s really interesting following people like Diamond, Eike Batista, and Halsey Minor. They take these pretty enormous stumbles, and keep coming back. The desire to win is a powerful thing.

  3. I’m finishing up Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. It’s a strongly opinionated read on how things can get stronger through adversity. Taleb approaches the material from a risk management perspective, and has a great voice. He holds nothing back in lobbing insults at people who exhibit behavior that makes things fragile, in his opinion. The content is a little dense at times, but mostly accessible. Give it a read.