Capital Markets

Egypt State-run bank seeks licence in Nairobi entry bid


Central Bank of Kenya. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Egypt’s second-largest bank, Banque Misr, now says it has formally applied for a Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) licence to enter the Kenyan market as it seeks lending deals in East Africa and serving Egyptian firms operating in the region.

The State-run bank, which last year hinted of plans to enter Kenya said the licence applications to Kenyan regulators were made alongside similar applications in Somalia and Djibouti.

The lender’s vice chairman Akef El Maghraby was quoted announcing the move at a business forum held in Egypt.

The Business Daily is yet to get a confirmation from the regulator on the licence plans and whether the lender is looking to set up branches or a representative office.

A spot-check on the bank’s website also showed the lender is headhunting senior managers to be in charge of various banking divisions locally, ostensibly in preparation for the licence nod.

The lender said earlier it planned to open either branches or representative offices in Kenya, Somalia, and Djibouti.

Banque Misr Mohamed Eletreby said it would borrow Sh27 billion ($250 million) from international lenders last year to fund the Kenya expansion, which will also coincide with planned entry into Djibouti and Somalia.

“We are in talks with two international institutions on loans with competitive interest rates,” Mr Eletreby was quoted saying last year.

The Banque Misr announcement marks the latest declaration of interest by an Egyptian lender to enter Kenya’s market.

Egypt’s largest private lender Commercial International Bank bought a controlling stake in Kenya’s Tier-III Mayfair Bank in a transaction that intensified deal-making in the local banking sector.

The Egyptian banks say they will ride on the billions in annual trade between Egypt and Kenya to gain market share, a pointer that Banque Misr is targeting trade finance.

Kenya has witnessed renewed interest by global banks since the CBK lifted a licensing moratorium in March 2017.

Other lenders, which have expressed interest in Kenya include America’s largest bank JPMorgan Chase & Co.