Atlas Mara, the Africa-focused lender co-founded by former Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond, is expanding its reach in Rwanda’s banking sector.

The bank is in talks to acquire a 45% stake in Banque Populaire du Rwanda (BPR), which has 191 branch locations and approximately 1,370 employees in the region, for $22.5m.

Following the successful conclusion of the transaction, Atlas Mara will merge BPR with BRD Commercial Bank, the Rwandan bank Atlas Mara acquired in 2014.

Atlas Mara will also purchase applicable secondary shares from local shareholders to have a controlling stake of over 70% in the combined entity.

The merged institution will be Rwanda’s largest bank by branch locations and second largest bank by assets with combined assets of about $305m.

Atlas Mara CEO John Vitalo said: "This is a very important transaction for Atlas Mara and I am excited by the prospect of our second acquisition in Rwanda.

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"Combining BPR and BRD Commercial is a significant step for the development of Atlas Mara and consistent with our strategy of being a leading player in the markets in which we operate."