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Nine foreign banks set sights on Kenya after CBK lifts freeze

CBK governor Dr Patrick Njoroge. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG
CBK governor Dr Patrick Njoroge. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG 

Kenya’s banking sector has attracted nine more banks from different countries after the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) lifted a freeze on the licensing of new lenders.

The banking regulator said the banks are seeking approval to set shop in Nairobi, citing a resilient economy, deeper financial connection and a dynamic regional market.

“We have nine banks from different jurisdictions that have expressed interest in coming to Kenya,” CBK governor Patrick Njoroge told the Press yesterday.

He, however, did not disclose their names or their specific countries of origin.

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Several international banks have more recently been making overtures to Kenya.

New York-based lender JPMorgan Chase has expressed interest in setting up a representative office in Nairobi while Qatari National Bank (QNB) has been advertising its financial results in local dailies for the third year in a row.

QNB has expressed interest in arranging a Sukuk (sovereign bond) for Kenya.

Kenya currently has 43 banks. The CBK early this month lifted the moratorium it had imposed on the licensing of new banks since November 2015 following the collapse of Imperial Bank and Dubai Bank under the weight of banking malpractices.

CBK’s decision to restart fresh licensing signals a return of stability in the Kenyan banking sector. This has seen the regulator announce that its finalising approval of two new lenders - DIB Bank Kenya owned by UAE’s largest Islamic bank Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) and Mayfair Bank Limited associated with Nairobi gubernatorial aspirant Peter Kenneth.
The moratorium stopped the issuing of new permits, excluding mergers, takeovers and acquisitions.

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