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Rwanda gives nod to KCB to buy bank from Atlas Mara

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By OTIATO GUGUYU

Rwandese authorities have approved the KCB Group deal to buy Banque Populaire du Rwanda (BPR) from London-listed financial services firm Atlas Mara Limited.

Atlas Mara made regulatory disclosures that it had obtained approvals to sell its banks in Rwanda and Botswana.

The firm said it was awaiting approvals from Tanzania where KCB Group has also set sights on African Banking Corporation Tanzania (BancABC).

KCB Group announced in November it had signed a deal with Atlas Mara to buy 62.06 per cent stake in BPR and a 100 per cent stake in BancABC.

“The Company has secured regulatory approval for the transactions with respects to its investments in Rwanda and Botswana, and parties are now in the process of concluding pre-completion conditions. Regulatory approval is pending with respect to the transaction with respect to its investment in Tanzania,” Atlas Mara said in the regulatory filing posted on its website.

High rate of financial inclusion and digital banking have forced Kenyan lenders to look outside the Kenyan local markets for growth.

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Mr Oigara said the transaction is part of KCB’s “ongoing strategy to explore opportunities for new growth while investing in and maximising returns from the Group’s existing businesses.”

The push for bank acquisitions has seen KCB battle with Equity Bank Group for regional domination in the race for boosting their asset base to over Ksh1 trillion ($9.2 billion).

KCB Bank and Equity Group have been top rivals, battling for superior customer base and assets to grow market share which has sent them on a trip of regional acquisitions.

The KCB deal came months after Equity Bank Group called off its plan to acquire four subsidiaries from Atlas Mara Limited in a move aimed at preserving its capital in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The parties had initiated talks in April last year, but the negotiations targeting Atlas Mara’s units in Rwanda, Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique dragged on until the pandemic hit.

Equity Bank then acquired Belgian tycoon George Forrest’s 66.53 percent stake in Banque Commerciale du Congo (BCDC)for Ksh10.4 billion ($96 million).

The Kenyan lender had already bought 86 percent shareholding of ProCredit Bank between 2015 and 2017 and renamed it Equity Bank Congo, then merge it with the new acquisition to create Equity Commercial Bank of Congo (Equity BCDC) biggest foreign bank in DRC.



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