Co-operative Bank has commenced operations in South Sudan with plans to roll out branches in the country’s ten states.
The bank, which is one of Kenya’s top six in terms of size, said on Thursday that it started operations in the country last month, through a joint venture with the Government of South Sudan.
“We formally opened our doors at our main branch in Juba on September 19, 2013 and will operate as the Co-operative Bank of South Sudan,” said Gideon Muriuki, the Co-op Bank Group chief executive in a statement.
Co-op Bank has taken a 51 per cent stake with the government holding the remaining 49 per cent which it will transfer to the co-operative movement in the country in a period of three years.
The Nairobi bourse-listed firm is looking to replicate in South Sudan its model of developing business partnerships with co-operative societies that has given it access to Kenya’s 12,000 Saccos and their 10 million customers.
South Sudan has emerged as one of the most lucrative countries in the East African region where Kenyan banks are expanding into to take advantage of low penetration of financial services.
Co-op Bank joins other NSE-listed lenders –CfC Stanbic, Equity and KCB that have operations in South Sudan.
In the half year ended June, Co-op Bank retained its position as the third most profitable lender in Kenya with its net profit growing 17.1 per cent to Sh4.7 billion behind its home-grown peers KCB and Equity whose net profits stood at Sh7.1 billion and Sh6.3 billion respectively.