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Equity Bank’s Mwangi set to serve for 10 more years

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Equity Bank’s chief executive James Mwangi: "The next 10 years will be the last of my service." PHOTO | FILE

Summary

  • James Mwangi says he wants to oversee Equity’s expansion to 10 new markets over the next decade before calling it quits.
  • The lender plans to spend Sh200 billion to enter Burundi, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Nigeria and Ghana in the next 10 years.
  • Mr Mwangi oversaw the lender’s conversion to a bank in 2004 and its listing at the Nairobi Securities Exchange in 2006.

Equity Bank’s chief executive James Mwangi has said he will lead the institution for another decade before retiring, making his one of the longest tenures among publicly traded firms.

Mr Mwangi, who has served the bank for 25 years, told shareholders at the recent annual general meeting that he wanted to oversee Equity’s expansion to 10 new markets over the next decade before calling it quits.

“The next 10 years will be the last of my service. I believe by serving this bank for 35 years I will have done my term,” said Mr Mwangi while disclosing he wanted the regional expansion to be his legacy.

The lender plans to spend Sh200 billion to enter Burundi, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Nigeria and Ghana in the next 10 years.

Mr Mwangi joined the bank as finance director before rising to be chief executive in the 1990s when Equity was still a building society.

He oversaw the lender’s conversion to a bank in 2004 and its listing at the Nairobi Securities Exchange in 2006. The bank since then expanded in the region with operations in Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and South Sudan while rising to be the country’s most profitable lender.

Mr Mwangi’s interest in the bank stands at 6.5 per cent, including the 4.88 per cent he holds directly.

His commitment to continue in his role came as long-serving board member Benson Wairegi, who is also the chief executive of insurance firm Britam, resigned after more than a decade as the bank’s vice-chairman.

READ: Equity Bank readies Sh200bn for ten country expansion

Mr Wairegi was part of the board that oversaw Equity Bank’s listing. He represented the interests of Britam, which owns a 10 per cent stake in the bank.

Capital Markets Authority has recommended that CEOs sit only in the board of one company.

The recommendation had cast the light on Mr Wairegi who also serves in the board of Housing Finance where Britam has a 46 per cent equity. Mr Wairegi is set to continue sitting in HF’s boardroom as his tenure is yet to expire.

Prof Shem Adholla, who has served as a director of HF for years, is set to resign after declining to offer himself for re-election following expiry of his term.

Prof Adholla has represented the interest of Equity Banks in HF. The bank however sold its entire 24.7 per cent interest in the mortgage financier to Britam for Sh2.8 billion.

Management said change of law allowing banks to conduct mortgage business and Housing Finance to operate current accounts advised the decision to sale as they two institutions would be competitors.