CBK boss mum on Imperial sale after disposal date lapses

Central Bank of Kenya governor Patrick Njoroge. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Central Bank of Kenya governor Patrick Njoroge. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) governor Patrick Njoroge remains tight-lipped on the planned sale of collapsed Imperial Bank despite the deadline to kick-off the disposal lapsing last month.

Missing the self-imposed deadline means depositors will have to wait longer to access their cash held at the lender.

A public notice inviting potential bidders to acquire Imperial Bank was due to be published a fortnight to the August 8 elections with the evaluation of shortlisted investors slated for three weeks after the polls, according to a schedule released by CBK.

Dr Njoroge declined to reveal what was holding back the scheduled sale of the lender and why the expression of interest notice was yet to be published in the local dailies as per the timetable released on June 23, 2017.

“Further updates and/or new information will be communicated at the appropriate time,” the governor said in response to our queries.

The impasse in the sale of Imperial Bank, which was scheduled to take 48 weeks, comes as a pain to depositors and investors who have their cash held up in the bank for nearly two years.

It also comes at a time when the sale of another collapsed lender, Chase Bank –shut down in April 2016 – has also run into headwinds after some bidders sought more time to study the its books before submitting formal proposals.

The CBK closed Imperial Bank on October 13, 2015 citing “unsafe and unsound business conditions to transact business” at the mid-tier lender which had Sh87 billion in customer deposits.

Dr Njoroge said the regulator had turned to selling a stake of Imperial Bank to an investor with financial muscle after the collapsed lender’s owners were unable to raise Sh10 billion in fresh capital to reopen the bank.

Appraisal of proposals and choosing qualified deep-pocketed investors should have been finished by end of August, as per the CBK timelines.

“Mindful of the concerns by depositors and the need for the process to be fully credible to potential strategic investors in order to maximise the value for depositors, the entire process is anticipated to be about 48 weeks,” Dr Njoroge said on June 23, 2017.