Rwanda Signs MoU To Privatise Largest Development Bank

salve geneva; font-size: small; mso-bidi-font-size: 11.0pt;”>Finance Minister Claver Gatete said the MoU will lead to the signing of an agreement thus the privatization of the commercial arm of the country’s largest development bank.

page geneva; font-size: small; mso-bidi-font-size: 11.0pt;”>Speaking at a press conference in Kigali today, price Gatete downplayed fears that the privatization of the bank would impact on its development programmes and instead hand massive profits to the investors, saying the institution’s core objectives of eradicating poverty eradication and improving household incomes would be upheld by the new management.

Gatete said Mara boasts experience in the banking sector and has capacity to improve the performance of the commercial bank.

He further denied reports that the bank was being handed to investors due to structural inefficiencies.

“By signing the MoU, the investors are pleased with what they have seen at the bank,” said Gatete.

The stated strategy of the Company is that it will operate the acquired business and implement an operating strategy with a view to generating value for its shareholders through operational improvements as well as potentially through additional complementary acquisitions.

The Directors believe that there are significant gaps in the market today including the need for capital created by European financial institutions retreating to their home territories due to the sovereign debt crisis and the Basel III regulatory framework at a critical time for growth in Africa.

This situation presents opportunities for Atlas Mara to create a financial institution that provides leadership, liquidity, access to investors, product innovation, and technology to support economic growth and strengthen financial systems in Africa.

Created in August 1967, the Development Bank of Rwanda is a Public Limited Liability Company dedicated to becoming “the financier of Rwanda’s development”.

BRD provides long-term financing to the private sector and offers a range of products including loans, leasing, mortgage financing, and trade finance.

The bank is currently majority owned by the Rwandan government.


Having been signed on the eve of the twentieth anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, said Gatete, today’s announcement is testament to the progress made in Rwanda by her people since that time.

“Kwibuka is a time for us to remember, but also to celebrate all that has been achieved. Nothing better demonstrates that, than Ashish, himself a child refugee of the Genocide, returning to his home country. We are proud to have him uniting with us to continue Rwanda’s journey to be a leading financial services centre,” said Gatete.

Considered one of Africa’s youngest billionaires, Ashish is the co-founder of Atlas Mara Group. He was a child when genocide occurred in Rwanda in 1994.

“The Government of Rwanda is committed to privatization in a sense that attracts foreign direct investments, gives investors good business opportunities and also boosts economic growth. This is in line with the Government’s decision to reform The Development Bank of Rwanda operations so that the bank can effectively serve its mandate,” added Gatete.

Amb Valentine Rugwabiza, the CEO of Rwanda Development Board welcomed the investment, particularly because of its potential to increase access to finance for Rwandan businesses including SMEs.

The two investors in Atlas Mara have excellent experience in raising funds internationally and they understand the sophistication that financial institutions need not only to tap into global liquidity but also to offer new, affordable services on the market. Their presence is a vote of confidence in Rwanda’s business climate,” said Rugwabiza.

The MoU was signed at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning in Kigali by Bob Diamond and Ashish J. Thakkar, co-founders of Atlas Mara; Gatete; Daniel Ufitikirezi, Director General of RSSB; Ambassador Bill Kayonga of NAEB and Alex Kanyankole, Chief Executive Officer of BRD.


Atlas Mara officials said the group’s objective is to establish a leading sub-Saharan African financial services group.

BRD is an opportunity for Atlas Mara to create a privately run financial services group in Rwanda, which will serve as a platform for them to expand into the attractive East African market.

Ashish said Rwanda is a country that holds a very special place in his heart.

“It is remarkable that today we signed this MoU, with BRD, a great bank, with even greater potential. I am proud to have this opportunity to play a role in creating access to capital for the millions of young Rwandan entrepreneurs like me.”

Bob Diamond, co-founder, Atlas Mara noted: “This partnership is in line with Atlas Mara’s vision which is building a leading African financial services group. Rwanda is a model economy that will continue to benefit from the engagement of the private sector. “

He further observed that much of the change of the last twenty years can be attributed to the leadership of the government and expressed excitement at being associated with this development.

Alex Kanyankole, CEO, BRD said the bank is pleased to be working with Atlas Mara.

“Atlas Mara is uniquely qualified with a strong management team, global operating expertise, and long-term capital to expand BRD’s capabilities. We have utmost faith that Atlas Mara is the right partner to move BRD to the next level of growth and thereby have a sustainable commercial impact on our economy.”

Today’s news comes less than a week after Ashish J. Thakkar and Bob Diamond announced in Botswana, their intention to acquire a majority stake in BancABC Holdings.

Gatete said government and Atlas Mara will in the next two months sign an agreement that will see the group acquire at least 75 percent shares in the bank.


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