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KCB makes surprise choice for Oduor-Otieno’s big shoes

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KCB’s outgoing chief executive Martin Oduor-Otieno  shakes  the hand  of  his successor, Joshua Oigara (left), as KCB chairman  Musa Ndeto looks on during a Press briefing at the bank’s offices yesterday. Mr Oduor-Otieno will be leaving the bank in April next year,  leaving the seat to Mr Oigara who was head-hunted from Bamburi Cement. DIANA NGILA

KCB’s outgoing chief executive Martin Oduor-Otieno shakes the hand of his successor, Joshua Oigara (left), as KCB chairman Musa Ndeto looks on during a Press briefing at the bank’s offices yesterday. Mr Oduor-Otieno will be leaving the bank in April next year, leaving the seat to Mr Oigara who was head-hunted from Bamburi Cement. DIANA NGILA  Nation Media Group

By Victor Juma and George Ngigi

Posted  Thursday, November 29  2012 at  21:11

In Summary

  • Mr Oigara is expected to keep the bank lean, lower its cost to income ratio, and deepen its regional footprint.
  • Mr Oduor-Otieno, who has written a biography Beyond the Shadows of My Dreams, opted not to seek re-appointment as his second term came to a close.
  • Mr Oduor-Otieno holds an MBA from ESAMI/Maastricht Business School and a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Nairobi.
  • KCB’s rival NBK recently appointed a former Standard Chartered executive Mr Munir Ahmed as CEO to replace Reuben Marambii who retired after a long stint in the government owned bank.

The appointment of Joshua Nyamweya Oigara on Thursday as chief executive of Kenya’s biggest bank — KCB — came with a tinge of surprise to many operatives of the financial services sector.

Surprising because Mr Oigara is not an industry insider, having become a banker only last year, and in a dramatic fashion.

KCB’s headhunting of Mr Oigara set it at loggerheads with Bamburi Cement where he worked as finance director. The move sparked a battle that the bank used its muscle to win besides offering him a similar position in November 2011.

It has turned out that KCB was not merely looking for someone to take care of its massive pile of cash but a replacement for its outgoing chief executive, Martin Oduor-Otieno, who is stepping down in April next year.

The succession planning formally came to a close yesterday with the formal announcement that Mr Oigara will take charge of Kenya’s biggest bank at 37.

The appointment makes him the youngest leader of a publicly-traded bank. Executives of all other lenders listed at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) are aged above 40.

The change of guard comes at a time when KCB has grown to become Kenya’s largest bank in terms of profitability and by asset base, an achievement that has been underpinned by the aggressive regional expansion strategy it adopted in the past five years under Mr Oduor-Otieno.

Mr Oigara is expected to take the bank – which is strong in both corporate and retail banking — to the next level riding on expansion into new business lines such as investment and Diaspora banking that his predecessor had identified as growth areas.

KCB’s change of guard comes just weeks after rivals Barclays Kenya and National Bank of Kenya (NBK) hired new CEOs from subsidiaries of London-based Standard Chartered Plc, ending the careers of bankers who rose to prominence in early-2000s.

Mr Oigara’s only banking experience is the one year he has served as CFO at KCB.

The company’s board, however, expressed confidence in the management skills he has acquired over the years in the corporate scene.

The bank had stated in an advertisement for the position that it was looking for a person who had managed a company with an asset base of over Sh297 billion.

“He has had that experience here in the last year that he has been with us and also from where he came,” said the bank’s chairman, Musa Ndeto. “We were looking for a CEO and not a banker —someone to manage the group.”

Mr Oigara has a four year contract in the new position.

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