Companies

KCB denies conflict claims in race to buy troubled Chase Bank

KCB

KCB chief executive officer Joshua Oigara during a media briefing at Chase Bank headquarters on July 28, 2016. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA

Summary

  • Chase shareholders this week complained that KCB has a conflicted interest in its position as the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK)-appointed receiver manager as well as a likely party to acquire a major stake in the failed lender.

The decision on who the eventual buyer of troubled lender Chase Bank will be rests with the regulator, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) chief executive Joshua Oigara has said.

Chase shareholders this week complained that KCB has a conflicted interest in its position as the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK)-appointed receiver manager as well as a likely party to acquire a major stake in the failed lender.

Mr Oigara on Thursday however insisted that the CBK will make the final call based on an ongoing forensic audit being conducted on Chase’s books.

“We have no exclusive right to buy, neither are we going to be the only buyer for Chase Bank, there will be other people coming on the table,” Mr Oigara said on the sidelines of a press conference outlining Chase Bank’s rival efforts.

By virtue of bidding for Chase Bank takeover but also playing a receiver-manager role, KCB is seen to enjoy a front-runner position compared to other interested parties.

Chase Bank’s foreign shareholders have reached out to their respective diplomatic missions in Nairobi airing their concerns.

The investors who control 20.9 per cent cited for instance what they alleged was impairing of alleged toxic and irrecoverable loans that could impact on shareholders’ worth ahead of the sale.

Mr Oigara, however, said that KCB was playing its role above board.

“A lot of the investors want to be involved in the day running of the bank. But they know more about this bank than we do. They have been there for a long time. They did their due diligence.

“They don’t need us to give them any more information as KCB. Why should we? But we have gone ahead to accommodate them. We are not running the bank as KCB alone,” said Mr Oigara.

READ: Chase Bank’s owners pull the diplomatic card

The KCB boss pointed to the appointment by CBK of an “independent” international firm to conduct due diligence ahead of the expected sale as its commitment to transparency.

The yet to be named audit firm will make a business review of Chase Bank and present its findings to the CBK.

“This gives the independence that every single investor is looking for. We are bullish about that process. Whoever is interested in Chase — and KCB is an interested party —gets a fair process. We don’t want to be conflicted as an organisation,” said Mr Oigara.

German investment firm DEG, French private equity fund Amethis Finance and Swiss venture capital firm responsAbility claim that KCB locked them out of the process of shaping the future of the troubled lender.