Equity Bank freezes regional expansion plans to boost existing market

12Mar 2016
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Equity Bank freezes regional expansion plans to boost existing market

Nairobi – Equity Bank has shelved its regional expansion plans announced last year with the management saying it was instead reinvesting in existing markets.

The largest bank by customers in the country had raised ShK20 billion from shareholders for the plan which saw it enter the Democratic Republic of Congo and also targeted entry into Burundi and Ethiopia by end of this year.

“This year we are not going to any new market but instead we want to mine existing subsidiaries to contribute at least 30 per cent of assets and hopefully 15 per cent of profits,” said the group chief executive James Mwangi.

Equity disclosed it had set aside KSh10 billion to enter the Ethiopian market but said it would only do so as a fully licensed lender and not through a representative office.

Ethiopia’s legal framework locks out foreign-owned banks from its market with international lenders opting to enter the economy through representative offices.

“We believe Ethiopia will open next year – we don’t want a representative or liaison office; we have been given those two but have declined because we want a full license because that’s the way we feel we can have the desired impact,” said Mr Mwangi.

Two Kenyan lenders – KCB, which is the country’s largest bank by asset base, and CFC Stanbic – opened representative offices in Ethiopia last year.

Mr Mwangi disclosed the lender pumped additional capital in its regional subsidiaries to boost their performance.
He said the bank will inject KSh2 billion in its Uganda operations and an additional Sh2.5 billion in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Equity invested an additional KSh2 billion in Tanzania and Sh1.3 billion in Rwanda.
“Increasing capital in the region means we can create more wealth with the increase in Tanzania than going to Botswana,” said Mr Mwangi.

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