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Mauritian top lender sees gold mine in Kenya deals

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Business transacted by representative offices of foreign banks in Kenya grew by more than a quarter to hit Sh313.2 billion in 2017. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The oldest bank in Mauritius says it will take advantage of the rising number of Mauritian businesses setting shop in Kenya to tap into more deals and grow its income from the region.

Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) chief executive officer Alain Law Min said its local representative office, opened in 2014, is eyeing deals in syndicated lending and trade finance in various segments including manufacturing, finance, and oil and gas sectors as it taps into growing economic links between these countries.

“We want to give our expertise in these areas,” said Mr Min in Nairobi when he announced that a delegation of 11 MCB officials will be in the country next week as the Indian Ocean Island’s largest lender seeks to consolidate its presence.

MCB chairperson Jean Francois Desvaux de Marigny and MCB chief representative officer for East and West Africa Seema Dhanani said the local MCB office will also be offering consultancy for Kenyan firms looking to venture into Mauritius.

Companies from the island nation have adopted an aggressive expansionist stance in Kenya’s financial sector over the last few years, collectively injecting more than Sh10 billion into the economy through acquisitions and investment in Kenyan firms.

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Experts say the rush to Kenya by Mauritian firms is partly spurred by a double-taxation agreement signed in 2014.

The Indian Ocean country has also been a popular haven for Kenya’s super rich with most multinational companies in Kenya having subsidiaries registered in Port Louis mostly due to its favourable tax regime with corporate tax at 15 per cent and export tax at three percent.

It also allows a 100 per cent foreign ownership and has nil capital gains tax among other incentives.

Business transacted by representative offices of foreign banks in Kenya grew by more than a quarter to hit Sh313.2 billion in 2017, Central Bank of Kenya data shows.

The single largest business was in trade finance, which stood at Sh93.52 billion in 2017 compared to Sh18.11 billion in the previous year, amounting to a five-fold growth.

“During 2017, representative offices facilitated business worth Sh313.2 billion. There was a notable increase in business activities facilitated by the representative offices in 2017 when compared to the Sh247.6 billion reported in 2016,” said the CBK earlier.

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