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NIC Bank taps diaspora for new chief executive

Mr John Gachora: New NIC Bank group managing director. FILE
Mr John Gachora: New NIC Bank group managing director. FILE  Nation Media Group

NIC Bank has joined the queue of local banks tapping Kenyans in the diaspora after it appointed a Johannesburg-based Barclays Bank executive as its new managing director.

The mid-tier bank has named John Gachora, the managing director in charge of corporate and investment banking of Barclays Africa, as its head following the appointment of his predecessor, James Macharia, to the Cabinet.

He will join NIC on September 16 as the bank joins rivals National and Barclays, which that have in the past year replaced their chiefs with Kenyans working abroad.

The bank still needs to fill the position of finance director following the exit of Joseph Mutugu early this month after failing to agree on strategy with the lender.

“I am very pleased to announce the appointment of John Gachora as the new Group Managing Director of NIC Bank with effect from September 16,” James Ndegwa, the bank’s chairman, told the staff Thursday in a memo, adding that the appointment was subject to regulatory approval.

Mr Macharia was sworn in as Health secretary on May 15 and had led NIC Bank since 2005. Allan Dodd, executive director for corporate banking, has been the acting managing director.

Mr Gachora, 44, joined Barclays Africa from South Africa’s Absa Africa where he was appointed CEO in 2010 and served in the global financial services firm Credit Suisse for a decade.

He holds an MBA from Wharton Business School, a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is an alumnus of Alliance High School.

Mr Gachora’s experience in mainstream banking and investment banking is expected to help him deepen NIC Bank’s financial supermarket model, which includes trading shares, selling insurance products and offering loans.

He is expected to step up expansion into foreign markets, especially within East Africa. The bank has subsidiaries in Tanzania and Uganda. The leader will also seek to reverse the slowdown in profits it faced in the first quarter running through March.

NIC’s profits rose 20 per cent to Sh1.2 billion in the period to March, compared with 29 per cent growth in the same period a year earlier.

The announcement of Mr Gachora’s appointment comes as Barclays is re-organising its Africa business, which has been merged with those of its South African subsidiary Absa Bank.

Under the deal, Absa would take control of Barclays PLC’s Africa’s operations including its 68.5 per cent stake in the Kenyan unit in a share swap deal that would increase the UK lender’s stake in the South African unit to 62.3 per cent from the current 55.5 per cent.

Barclays acquired a 55.5 per cent stake in South Africa’s third-largest bank in 2005 but the two have remained separate entities outside South Africa, with Tanzania running parallel operations in the same country. Like Barclays, Absa has operations in Tanzania.

NIC bank’s share stood at Sh56.50 compared to Sh53 when the appointment of Mr Macharia was made public on April 23 and has gained 35.3 per cent over the past six months.

Barclays Bank of Kenya tapped a former Standard Chartered (Tanzania) CEO Jeremy Awori as managing director of the Kenyan unit in February. He replaced Adan Mohamed who is now Industrialisation secretary.

National Bank of Kenya in August replaced the late Reuben Marambi with Munir Ahmed, a local banker who was then working for Standard Chartered Bank in South Africa.

NIC Bank’s share stood at Sh56.50 compared to Sh53 when the appointment of Mr Macharia was made public on April 23 and has gained 35.3 per cent over the past six months.

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