8 January 2016

Rwanda: Atlas Mara's Equity Stake in BPR and BRD Commercial to 'Boost Financial Inclusion'

The sale of Banque Populaire du Rwanda (BPR) equity stake to Atlas Mara Ltd and merger with BRD Commercial will boost financial inclusion and enhance stability in the banking sector, the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Claver Gatete, has said.

Atlas Mara has invested more than $20.4 million (about Rwf15.3 billion) in BPR and merged it with BRD Commercial Bank Ltd, part of Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD), acquired by sub-Saharan financial services, Mara Group in 2014.

The integration was officially launched yesterday in Kigali.

According to minister Gatete, this makes BPR the second largest financial service bank in the country, and is expected to add value to the country's financial sector.

Speaking at the official launch of the integration exercise in Kigali, yesterday, Gatete urged financial market players to improve service delivery and invest more resources to help boost financial inclusion and drive the country towards a cashless based economy.

John Rwangombwa, the Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR), said the merger brings with it new innovative technologies critical for the stability of the financial sector.

"The country's financial sector is already doing well with growth rate of more than 14 per cent and 42 per cent in terms of profitability; therefore, we are confident that this merger will only improve the numbers," Rwangombwa re-assured.

John Vitalo, the chief executive officer, Atlas Mara, said the merger is in line with the Group's vision of building Africa and specifically, Rwanda's financial sector to help fast track economic development.

"The overall objective is to support Rwanda's ieffort to become a hub for financial services in East Africa," Vitalo noted.

Atlas Mara is expected to invest some $21 million (about Rwf15 billion) into the bank and hold a majority stake in the financial institution of about 62 per cent.

Vitalo added that the Group is confident the deal makes it possible for customers to greatly benefit from enhanced capital base, enlarge distribution network and expanded capabilities of the institution.

New CEO appointed

Meanwhile, Sanjeev Anand, the former I$M Bank boss, was appointed the CEO of the institution.

He replaces Ephraim Turahirwa, who has been BPR's chief executive officer for the past three years.

About Atlas Mara

The banking group has so far invested more than $700 million in more than seven countries in Africa.

The bank was listed on the main market of the London Stock Exchange in December 2013.

It also seeks to create a sub- Saharan Africa premier financial services institution through a combination of its experience and access to capital, liquidity and funding, it says.

On October 2015, Atlas Mara acquired 100 per cent of the voting shares of BRD's commercial operations forming what is known today as BRD Commercial Bank.


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