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Fidelity Bank now SBM Kenya after Mauritian group buyout

Fidelity Bank along Nairobi's Kaunda Street. FILE PHOTO | SAMMY KIMATU
Fidelity Bank along Nairobi's Kaunda Street. FILE PHOTO | SAMMY KIMATU  

Troubled Fidelity Commercial Bank (FCB) has officially changed its name to SBM Bank (Kenya) after Mauritian firm SBM Holdings completed the process to acquire it.

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) said the buyout process had been sealed following issuance of requisite regulatory approvals.

“CBK has also approved the change of name from Fidelity Commercial Bank Limited to SBM Bank (Kenya) Limited, under Section 3 of the Banking Act,” the regulator said in a statement Thursday morning.

CBK governor Patrick Njoroge welcomed entry of the Port Louis-based lender into the Kenyan market, saying it would stimulate a sector rocked by the failure of three banks.

“SBM will bring its experience and expertise from Mauritius and other markets, to enhance the competitiveness and resilience of Kenya’s banking sector,” said Dr Njoroge.

Capital injection

SBM said earlier it would inject Sh1.45 billion of fresh capital into Fidelity once the deal got all the required regulatory approvals.

SBM Group, which operates one of Mauritius’ leading commercial banks - SBM Bank - had assets of $4.2 billion (Sh432 billion) as of September.

It also has operations in India and Madagascar.

“Going forward, SBM is well poised to play a significant role in financing intra-Africa trade and investments, using Kenya as a launching pad into other African markets,” Dr Njoroge added.

Fidelity Bank founder Sultan Khimji during a past interview. FILE PHOTO | EMMA NZIOKA | NMG

Fidelity Bank founder Sultan Khimji during a past interview. FILE PHOTO | EMMA NZIOKA | NMG

Aggressive expansion strategy

SBM kicked off the process to acquire a majority stake in ownership of Kenya’s bottom-tier lender Fidelity Bank last year, eyeing through the deal, a presence in Kenya and the region.

SBM is also angling to buy a stake in the troubled Chase Bank as it plans to firm its foothold in Kenya.

The deep-pocketed firm disclosed recently that it is among a dozen investors looking to buy the lender, underlining an aggressive expansionist stance by Mauritian companies eager to capitalise on a double-taxation agreement signed between Kenya and the Indian Ocean archipelago two years ago.

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