Markets & Finance

Central bank targets sale of Chase Bank by the end of March


Chase Bank depositors outside a Nairobi branch after the lender was put under receivership by CBK in April. PHOTO | FILE

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) plans to sell troubled Chase Bank by the end of March next year.

CBK governor Patrick Njoroge on Tuesday said there were at least eight investors, local and foreign, willing to buy the bank put under statutory management in March.

“Sometime in quarter one we should close the sale but we are not looking at a hard deadline,” said Dr Njoroge.

The governor disclosed that the current shareholders were part of the interested investors.

KCB, Kenya’s largest bank per capital base, was the first to register interest in the bank, which is reported to have opened 13,000 accounts since it reopened under a receiver manager, underlining its attractiveness.

Barclays Bank is said to have dropped its interest after due diligence.

The CBK disclosed that it will be sharing with the bank suitors findings of its due diligence.

“We will be in a position to chose who will be the final stakeholder and that also includes shareholders of Chase whose rights as at this moment have been suspended,” said Dr Njoroge.

Top owners of Chase Bank include international agencies such German investment firm DEG, French private equity fund Amethis Finance and Swiss venture capital firm responsAbility.

The shareholders had previously complained of being kept in the dark on issues affecting the bank after it was put under statutory management.
Other options open to the CBK include conversion of debts and deposits into equity.

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The bank had raised Sh4.8 billion in a corporate bond issued last year and had an estimated Sh16 billion in long-term debt. Some of the institutions that were owed by the bank include French Proparco and Development Bank of Austria (OeEB).

Deposits in the bank were over Sh70 billion with some of the large depositors including Kenya Tea Development Agency.

Conclusion of the sale will mark the second time the lender will have risen from the ashes, having emerged from liquidation under the name United Bank based in Kisumu in the 1990s.

Chase Bank was closed to tame a run on deposits ignited by reports of massive insider borrowing. It has bounced back faster than Imperial and Dubai, which collapsed at the second half of last year.

Dr Njoroge disclosed that the CBK’s evidence against Imperial Bank was more than 85,000 pages long, signalling a long drawn-out court battle.
Another lender, Dubai Bank, is currently under liquidation.