African Deals: Atlas Mara Eyes Stake In Second Rwandan Bank

African Deals: Atlas Mara Eyes Stake In Second Rwandan Bank

Atlas Mara, an investment vehicle formed by former Barclays chief executive Robert Diamond and Dubai-based businessman Ashish Thakkar, said on Monday It was at an advanced stage of negotiating for a stake in a second Rwandan bank.

The investment firm said in a statement  that it was planning to inject $22.5 million in Banque Populaire du Rwanda, in exchange of a 45 percent stake in the lender.

Atlas Mara plans to buy more shares from other local shareholders  in the bank, lifting its stake to more than 70 percent, before merging it with another local bank, BRD Commercial Bank, which it bought a controlling stake in 2014.

After the merger “We will be the largest bank by branch locations and the second largest by assets in the country, which is one of sub-Saharan Africa’s most dynamic economies,” saidn John Vitalo, Atlas Mara chief executive.

“Combining B.P.R. (Banque Populaire du Rwanda) and BRD Commercial is a significant step for the development of Atlas Mara and consistent with our strategy of being a leading player in the markets in which we operate,” he added.

Atlas Mara, which was formed by a merger between Atlas Merchant Capital LLC, set up by Diamond in New York, and Africa-focused billionaire entrepreneur Thakkar’s Mara Group Holdings Limited, said last month it was eying more commercial banks in Africa in its bid to become the continent’s leading bank.

It has operations and investments in seven African countries so far, including Botswana, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.