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Mauritian firms crank up shares in local financial companies

Fidelity Bank was acquired by SBM Bank. file photo | nmg
Fidelity Bank was acquired by SBM Bank. file photo | nmg 

Mauritian firms continued to adopt an aggressive expansionist stance in the local financial sector in 2017.

This was heralded by an announcement by the deep-pocketed Mauritian firm SBM Holdings that it was among investors looking to buy a stake in Chase Bank, indicating the Indian Ocean island nation’s desire to firm its grip on the financial sector and the economy at large.

SBM revealed it was bidding to buy a stake in Chase Bank with plans for a bigger presence in Kenya and the region. The lender received regulatory go-ahead on October 9 to acquire the good assets and liabilities of the mid-tier lender (in receivership) subject to a due diligence. Kenya remains the focal point of SBM Africa’s expansion strategy, it revealed.

SBM earlier acquired full ownership of Kenya’s bottom-tier lender Fidelity Bank in 2016, earning itself a domestic and regional presence.

SBM said it would inject Sh1.45 billion fresh capital into Fidelity once the deal got all the required regulatory approval. The group, which operates one of Mauritius’ leading commercial banks, SBM Bank, had assets of $4.2 billion (Sh432 billion) as of September. It also operates in India and Madagascar.

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Mauritian firms have adopted an aggressive expansionist stance in the local financial sector in the last few years.

They have injected more than Sh5 billion into the economy through acquisitions and investments in companies, indicating tightening economic links between Nairobi and the Port Louis.

The rush to Kenya is partly spurred by a double-taxation agreement signed two years ago.

Not to be left out by their larger peers, several small- and medium-sized Mauritian businesses and entrepreneurs have been pitching tent in Kenya as they seek to reach out to millions of consumers.

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