Atlas Mara targets more African acquisitions

HARARE - BancABC Zimbabwe’s parent company, Atlas Mara Plc, says it is close to acquiring two more banks in Rwanda and Zambia as the financial services group moves to consolidate its footprint in Africa.

The group’s chief executive, John Vitalo, yesterday said his company had reached agreements to invest approximately

$21 million in Banque Populaire du Rwanda Limited (BPR).

“Following completion of this step, Atlas Mara intends to merge BPR and BRD Commercial Bank Limited (BRD Commercial), the Rwandan bank Atlas Mara acquired in 2014, which will result in Atlas Mara owning 62 percent of the combined entity and Rabobank and other existing shareholders retaining a minority stake,” he said.

Vitalo noted that BPR enjoys strong customer loyalty, given its roots as a customer-owned bank, its 40-year operating history, and comprehensive geographic footprint.

Be end of June this year, BPR had approximately $246 million of assets, $153 million of loans, and $200 million of deposits.

Founded in 2013 by Bob Diamond, the former chief executive of Barclays and his Dubai-based billionaire business partner Ashish Thakkar, Atlas Mara is also in advanced negotiations with respect to the potential acquisition of 100 percent of Finance Bank of Zambia Plc (FBZ), currently Zambia’s sixth largest bank.

Vitalo said the latest acquisitions provide “further evidence of delivery of our stated strategy of being a scale participant in our countries of operation and progress in building sub-Saharan Africa’s premier financial institution”.

Atlas Mara made a splash in Zimbabwe last year by buying ABC Holdings — which owns BancABC and has presence in Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, the London-based financial services group has registered a $7,1 million profit in the nine months to September 2015 from a loss of $38 million recorded last year.

“Loans and advances grew by 14,4 percent on a constant currency basis, reflecting Atlas Mara’s emphasis on improvements in credit origination processes, and deposits increased by 9,7 percent on a constant currency basis, underscoring the company’s focus on funding and liability management,” Vitalo said.

In the nine months to September, Atlas Mara reported net interest income growth of 19,1 percent, non-interest revenue growth of 22 percent and essentially unchanged operating expenses year-over-year, on a constant currency basis.

On an adjusted operating profit basis, Atlas Mara reported a profit of $23,7 million and a cost to income ratio of 79,9 percent.

“Our results for the nine months ended September 30, 2015 reflect our continued focus on acquiring the right assets and being astute operators. 

“We place particular emphasis on prudently growing the asset base, reducing funding costs, delivering efficiencies and launching innovative products and services for our customers,” Vitalo added.

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