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Bob Diamond's turnaround plan for Atlas Mara starts to pay off 

Shares in Bob Diamond's African banking business Atlas Mara jumped on Thursday after a record set of results suggested efforts to revive the company's fortunes were paying off. 
The London-listed group, co-founded by the former Barclays boss in 2013 to cash in on growth across Africa, said its profits for the first half had hit $11.5m (?8.8m) versus $1.2m for the same period a year ago.  
The sharp uptick came as welcome news to investors, who have been left disappointed by the company's performance in recent years. Shares in the business were up more than 4pc after the results were unveiled. 
It said its loan book declined by 8pc on last year "reflecting a cautious risk appetite in certain markets coupled with a slower recovery of economic conditions prevalent in 2016, constraining demand for credit".
Atlas Mara has had a rocky few years, with its shares falling by around 80pc since it listed in 2013. It has been rattled by a plunge in commodity prices in the countries it operates in as well as a fall in African currencies against the dollar. 
Bob Diamond's turnaround plan for Atlas Mara starts to pay off 

Diamond left Barclays amid the furore over Libor rigging in 2012
However its profit surge suggests the business could be turning a corner after Mr Diamond put a new plan in place last year, which involves cutting costs by $20m a year. 
It also raised $200m this year in a push to fire up growth, selling a stake in investment company Fairfax Africa and using the proceeds to buy a further chunk of the Union Bank of Nigeria.
The latest set of results cover a period that included the sudden departure of chief executive John Vitalo in February. Mr Vitalo's exit triggered a new structure where the three division heads - retail and corporate, markets and fintech - all report directly into Mr Diamond, eradicating the chief executive job.
Mr Diamond said "despite ongoing economic challenges across our markets, in the first half of 2017 we have begun to demonstrate the potential earnings power" of Atlas Mara. 
"We remain on track with our stated profit and cost savings goals announced earlier this year," he added. 
Mr Diamond left Barclays amid the furore over the Libor-rigging scandal, which erupted in 2012. He then set up Atlas Mara with Ashish Thakkar, once reported to be Africa's youngest billionaire.
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