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UBA bank boss departs under cloud of bad loans

UBA Kenya managing director Isaac Mwige
UBA Kenya managing director Isaac Mwige (left, standing) with Regional CEO, East and Southern Africa Iweriebor Emeke during a media briefing on May 17, 2018. FILE PHOTO |NMG 

Isaac Mwige, the chief executive of UBA Kenya, has left the bank after four years on the job, the local subsidiary of Lagos-based lender UBA Plc said Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear what led to his sudden departure but the bank said Emeke Iweriebor, a regional UBA executive, had replaced him in an acting capacity.

“UBA wishes to announce the resignation of its chief executive officer, Mr Isaac Mwige, who has stepped down from his position to pursue other career interests,” the bank said in a statement.

Mr Mwige was the first Kenyan to head the bank when he was appointed in August 2014.

The company’s chairman, James Olubayi, said Mr Mwige’s resignation was effective Wednesday but he will stay on until the end of December when he will hand over to the acting CEO.

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UBA reported a net profit of Sh20.5 million in the half year ended June or nearly triple the Sh7.1 million it made a year earlier.

The bank has recently been in the news for loans it advanced to companies that later defaulted after a mix of losses, heavy debt burden and mismanagement.

Mix of losses

UBA is among a group of banks that advanced loans to Nakumatt Holdings, Uchumi Supermarkets and Deacons East Africa.

All have defaulted on their loans and later collapsed or gone into administration.

UBA is, for instance, owed some Sh345 million by ARM Cement, Sh172 million by Uchumi, Sh250 million by Nakumatt and Sh98.3 million by Deacons.

Nakumatt went into voluntary administration early this year and has slimmed down considerably after years of a debt-fuelled expansion in the local and regional markets.

The supermarket chain has closed scores of outlets including Bamburi branch in Mombasa, the Lunga Lunga outlet in Nairobi’s Industrial Area, NextGen (Mombasa Road), Thika Road Mall (Thika Road), and Westgate in Westlands, Nairobi.

Uchumi has also lost most of its outlets and is fighting a winding up petition brought by suppliers and other creditors claiming more than Sh800 million.

Court records show that 20 companies have joined the case filed by Githunguri Dairy Farmers Co-operative Society, bringing the total claims filed against the retailer so far to Sh865 million.

Githunguri Dairy moved to court in September seeking to wind up Uchumi over its failure to set­tle a Sh44.8 million debt.

Land sale

The retail chain has been banking on the sale of land in Kasarani to turn around its fortunes but the money — estimated at Sh2.8 billion — has been slow in coming because of challenging approval processes.

Fashion retailer Deacons went into administration on Monday after years of losses, making it difficult for the company to pay its debt.

The company had recently indicated that its shareholders were willing to rescue it and it was not immediately clear why the plan failed to materialise.

The fashion retailer’s creditors include NIC Bank and UBA Kenya Bank Limited which it owed Sh524.8 million and Sh98.3 million respectively as of December 2017.

Years of losses had reduced Deacons’ book value to Sh101.4 million as of June.

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