Rwanda, DRC most profitable units for KCB, Equity banks

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Rwanda, DRC most profitable units for KCB, Equity banks


The CEO of KCB Group Joshua Oigara and Equity Group’s James Mwangi. FILE PHOTOS | NMG

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Summary

  • KCB acquired Banque Populaire du Rwanda (BPR) in June last year from London-listed financial services firm Atlas Mara Limited, eyeing a larger footprint in retail banking in the country.
  • Equity on its part bought a 66.53 percent stake in Banque Commerciale Du Congo (BCDC) in 2020, having earlier taken over ProCredit in the same market.
  • Kenyan lenders have in recent years sought regional diversification as a means of growing their balance sheets away from Kenya’s competitive local market.

Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were the most profitable regional subsidiaries for KCB Group #ticker: KCB and Equity Group #ticker: EQTY respectively in 2021, revealing the benefits of acquisitions they made in those countries.

KCB acquired Banque Populaire du Rwanda (BPR) in June last year from London-listed financial services firm Atlas Mara Limited, eyeing a larger footprint in retail banking in the country.

Equity on its part bought a 66.53 percent stake in Banque Commerciale Du Congo (BCDC) in 2020, having earlier taken over ProCredit in the same market and which it subsequently renamed Equity Bank Congo.

It has since merged the two banks. The lender said that in 2021, the DRC operation contributed Sh4 billion in net profit to the group, which was equivalent to 10 percent of its total net income of Sh40 billion.

This was the highest contribution by a regional subsidiary, ahead of Equity Uganda’s Sh2.6 billion.

KCB’s Rwanda operation also benefited from the addition of the new acquisition, raising its profit before tax by 71 percent or Sh450 million to Sh1.08 billion last year.

Its Tanzania business followed at Sh1.07 billion, while KCB South Sudan, which was the most profitable regional subsidiary in 2020 with a gross profit of Sh672 million, fell to third last year after earning Sh995 million.

The DRC and Rwanda subsidiaries for the two banks came with significant and established balance sheets, allowing them to make an immediate return.

Kenyan lenders have in recent years sought regional diversification as a means of growing their balance sheets away from Kenya’s competitive local market, hoping to take advantage of the regional integration that has opened up new opportunities in trade and investment financing.

In previous years, the banks were starting operations from scratch when entering regional markets, which has seen some of them take time to realize a return and build scale.

By making acquisitions, on the other hand, KCB and Equity have seen their Rwanda and DRC units quickly rise to become their largest regional subsidiaries both in profits and physical footprint.

KCB now boasts of 150 branches and 944 agents in Rwanda, second only to its Kenya unit which has 296 branches and 14,512 agents. None of the other regional subsidiaries have more than 15 branches.

In the DRC, Equity now has 70 branches, well ahead of Uganda’s 43, and just over a third of Kenya’s 190.

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