Tanzania billionaires buy Equity Bank stake

Customers queue at an Equity Bank ATM in Nairobi.
Customers queue at an Equity ATM in Nairobi. PHOTO/FILE 

Tanzanian billionaires Aunali and Sajjad Rajabali have bought seven million shares of Equity Group #ticker:EQTY worth Sh344 million, expanding their investment in Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed firms.

Their purchase of the bank’s stock is disclosed in the lender’s May regulatory filing of its ownership structure.

The duo has invested more than Sh1.5 billion in NSE-listed firms over the past two years, taking significant stakes in companies such as Co-op Bank, #ticker:COOP KenolKobil, #ticker:KENO Jubilee Holdings #ticker:JUB and I&M Holdings.

The Rajabalis are now ranked seventh in Equity’s list of top individual investors with a 0.19 per cent stake.

Most efficient bank


Equity has cemented its position as the country’s most efficient bank with an annualised return on equity (RoE) of 28.5 per cent after reporting a 21.4 per cent growth in net profit to Sh5.8 billion in the first quarter ended March.

The lender’s performance, anchored on its retail banking success, has attracted major global investors.

“The bank differentiates itself from its peers through its large retail customer base with nearly half of all bank accounts in Kenya,” London-based asset manager Blackrock Frontiers Investment Trust Plc, which holds Equity shares worth Sh1.5 billion, says in a regulatory filing.

The bank has in recent years moved to strengthen its existing regional operations, postponing entry into new markets.

The lender last year invested an additional Sh1 billion in its Ugandan subsidiary, its second most profitable unit after the Kenyan banking operation.

The new cash shored up the subsidiary’s capital but left Equity’s interest in the unit unchanged at 100 per cent.

Latest capital injection

This is the latest capital injection in a subsidiary after the Kenyan banking multinational invested an addition Sh2.2 billion in Democratic Republic of Congo operation in 2016, a move that raised its stake from 79 per cent to 86 per cent.

The new capital raised the value of the company’s investment in the Uganda unit to Sh5 billion from the previous Sh3.9 billion.

The subsidiary also took a Sh2.2 billion loan from the European Investment Bank in the review period. 

Equity says the Ugandan operation had a pre-tax income of Sh1.1 billion in the year ended December, an 89 per cent increase from Sh628 million the year before.