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Chase depositors to get cash starting October

SBM Kenya acting CEO Jonathan Mutoka, director Flora Mutahi and SBM Holdings chairman Kee Chong Li Kwong Wing during a media briefing. PHOTO | Diana ngila | NMG
SBM Kenya acting CEO Jonathan Mutoka, director Flora Mutahi and SBM Holdings chairman Kee Chong Li Kwong Wing during a media briefing. PHOTO | Diana ngila | NMG 

Chase Bank’s large depositors could start accessing their money after six months, according to Mauritius-based SBM Holdings, which has signed an agreement to acquire the Kenyan lender.

The bank collapsed in 2016 with deposits of more than Sh100 billion, part of which was returned to small depositors when it was under the care of the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).

SBM says it is ready to grant access to the remaining deposits once its acquisition of Chase Bank becomes effective, adding that this will depend on how fast regulators approve the transaction.

The CBK recently said access to the deposits will be spread over a period of up to three years in what is seen as a move to stabilise the bank under its new owner.

“We need the approval of Central Bank (to avail deposits) … A minimum of four to six months,” SBM Holdings chairman Kee Chong Li Kwong Wing said in Nairobi at a press briefing.

About 3,100 affected depositors will be seeking to access the cash locked up at the lender.

According to a schedule agreed to by the CBK and SBM, 25 per cent of the deposits will be available immediately Chase Bank starts operations under its new owner.

No interest will be payable on these deposits.

There will be unrestricted usage of another 25 per cent of the sums, which will be held in a savings account and earning interest at a rate of 6.65 per cent per annum.

The remaining money will be held in fixed deposit accounts earning a similar interest rate and will be paid out to depositors over three years.

SBM, which earlier acquired full ownership of Kenya’s bottom-tier lender Fidelity Bank in 2016, plans to invest an additional $60 million (about Sh6 billion) in Chase Bank having already invested about $26 million (about Sh2.6 billion) in the lender.

Mr Li said SBM will absorb all of Chase Bank’s staff estimated at 1,300 in about 62 of its branches, providing relief to the workers who faced an uncertain future.

“We are committed to taking all the staff,” said Mr Li.

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