Moroccan bank targets stake in Bank of Kigali

By:
Olivier Holmey
Published on:

Morocco’s Banque Centrale Populaire has entered into negotiations with Bank of Kigali to acquire a minority stake in the Rwandan bank.

Bank of Kigali is considering BCP’s offer, but has not yet settled on the sale, the bank’s CEO Diane Karusisi tells Euromoney. The Rwandan bank’s recently held annual general meeting did not touch on the subject of BCP, so the process has not yet been set in motion.

Of the possible sale, Karusisi says: “It may not happen soon, and it may not happen at all.”

Bank of Kigali is listed on the Rwandan stock exchange, where it is one of the largest stocks. If the transaction were to go ahead, it would involve a block sale of new shares to BCP.

Bank of Kigali aims to raise $175 million over the next 18 months, to increase its capital. That could be achieved through a stake sale to BCP, or alternatively through a cross-listing on another exchange. The bank is considering Nairobi, Johannesburg and London as potential destinations.

The bank has not yet made its mind up between BCP and the cross-listing, Karusisi says.


John Rwangombwa,
National Bank of
Rwanda

If BCP were to enter Rwanda, it would not be the first Moroccan bank to invest in the country. Just last year, Attijariwafa, which is expanding internationally beyond its traditional markets in francophone Africa, signed an agreement to buy 75% of Cogebanque, another large Rwandan bank.

Economies ties between Rwanda and Morocco have been tightening in recent months. During a business conference in April in Kigali, which was attended by close to 100 Moroccan businesspeople, it was announced that $100 million would be invested in Rwanda from Morocco.

Morocco’s king Mohammed VI visited Rwanda in October last year. On that occasion, he signed 21 bilateral agreements with the country – including one aimed at promoting collaboration in the field of microfinance.

Atlas Mara has also invested in the country’s banking sector, first buying up Banque Populaire du Rwanda and more recently Banque Rwandaise de Développement.

Various other foreign banks have a presence in Rwanda: among them I&M Bank, Access Bank, Equity Bank, Kenya Commercial Bank, Ecobank and GT Bank.

Asked by Euromoney about foreign investment in Rwanda, the country’s central bank governor, John Rwangombwa, says: “We are a small economy that needs capital to grow, so we don’t have the luxury of closing our borders. So we’ve been attracting foreign capital and we think it’s positive.”

Rwangombwa declines to comment on BCP’s offer in particular, but he adds: “In general we welcome foreign investment and in fact the biggest chunk of our banking industry is owned by foreign investors. The good thing is we’ve seen them having the muscle to increase capital wherever it’s needed.

“As the banks are growing, business requires more capital to continue growing, and having foreign investors has enabled this growth.”