Speculation is rife that former Barclays CEO Bob Diamond and Ashish Thakkar’s banking group – Atlas Mara could put in a bid for Barclays Africa.

Barclays revealed on Tuesday it plans to sell down its 62.3 per cent stake in Barclays Africa over the next two to three years.

Speaking to CNBC, Barclays CEO Jes Staley described the African asset as a “terrific franchise” that should garner lots of shareholder interest.

Several analysts such as Korner Perspective’s director Graeme Korner have warned that it may be difficult to find a buyer for such a large stake.

BBC editor Simon Jack reckons that Atlas Mara might be at the top of that list of potential buyers.

When CNBC Africa approached Atlas Mara for comment co-founder Thakkar said the company “has made clear that it is aiming to build the pre-eminent financial institution in sub-Saharan Africa and intends to achieve this though both organic growth and acquisition.  As a result, Atlas Mara is often approached by vendors of assets and it is our policy not to comment on specific situations”.

Atlas Mara has banking operations in seven sub-Saharan African countries, including Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Rwanda and Nigeria.

Barclays has had a presence in Africa since 1925. Barclays Africa was created three years ago under a deal in which the British bank handed over ownership of its businesses in eight African countries to its South African subsidiary in exchange for a 62.3 percent stake in the new entity.

The company makes most of its profit and revenue in South Africa and also operates in Kenya, Botswana, Ghana, Zambia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Uganda and Tanzania.