SBM eyes Nairobi bourse listing, regional expansion


A Chase Bank branch in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Mauritius-based lender SBM Holdings is considering listing its Kenyan unit on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) in a plan that is expected to secure its foothold and consolidate expansion of its business in the region.

SBM Holdings chairman, Kee Chong Li Kwong Wing, said the lender plans to list at the Nairobi bourse after stabilising its operations over a three-year period.

“We have taken Chase Bank in a weak and turbulent state. Our immediate priority is to bring it back to its peak state when it had a balance sheet of about $1.5 billion (about Sh151.2 billion) and from there together with our new strategy to double the size of SBM Kenya within three to five months…We plan to list SBM Bank Kenya at the Nairobi Securities Exchange in future,” said Mr Li Monday when the Mauritian lender officially kicked off operations in Kenya as SBM Bank Kenya after its Chase Bank takeover.

SBM now boasts over 50 branches, 150,000 customers and a balance sheet size just shy of Sh100 billion, according to SBM Holdings CEO (India and East Africa) Moses Harding.

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The Mauritian banking giant, which acquired Kenya’s bottom-tier lender Fidelity Bank in 2016, plans to invest an additional Sh6 billion in Chase Bank having already injected about $26 million (about Sh2.6 billion) into the troubled lender.

Mr Harding said Monday that while the lender is ready to grant access to the remaining deposits to its large depositors, it will be keen to offer stability so as to retain all existing customers.

Speaking at the ceremony, Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) governor Patrick Njoroge hailed the official start of SBM Kenya citing the resolution of the buyout process of the collapsed Chase Bank as a landmark for the country’s financial sector.

“Never before have you had the private sector come up with such a solution,” said Dr Njoroge.

“This is a major milestone. This is a small step for depositors but a giant leap for the stability of the financial sector.”

Dr Njoroge said the regulator plans to seize and sell off assets belonging to individuals linked to the collapse of Chase Bank to cover a Sh19 billion deficit owed to customers as deposits.

“CBK and KDIC (Kenya Deposit Insurance Corporation) intend to engage further with creditors in this process as needed with a view to hasten the recovery,” he said.

SBM says it has retained 825 Chase Bank employees out of an estimated 1,300 workforce, a relief to over 60 per cent of staff who faced an uncertain future following the acquisition.

Employees routinely face redundancy after mergers or buyouts as the whole point of the process is to achieve efficiency through cost cutting.

Chase Bank was placed under receivership on April 7, 2016 following a run on deposits after reports of liquidity problems spread among panicked customers.

It was then re-opened on April 27, 2016 under the management of the KDIC.

The official start of SBM Bank operations paves the way for depositors to start receiving cash.

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