Egypt’s top lender seeks approval to buy Mayfair Bank


Kenya has been a magnet for foreign banks. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Egypt’s largest private lender is planning to buy a controlling stake in Kenya’s Tier III Mayfair Bank in a transaction that is set to intensify deal-making in the local banking sector.

Commercial International Bank (CIB) will buy a stake in the three-year-old Kenyan bank as the launchpad for a piece of the East African banking market.

The Competition Authority of Kenya confirmed it was reviewing the buyout proposal but declined to disclose the stake or size of the transaction. Mayfair Bank also declined to comment.

“The Authority has received an application in respect to the proposed acquisition of a controlling interest in Mayfair Bank Limited by Commercial International Bank (Egypt),” the CAK said yesterday in response to querries by the Business Daily. “The Authority is currently analysing the application. Upon reaching a determination, the Authority shall publish it pursuant to Section 42 and 46 of the Competition Act No. 12 of 2010.”

Mayfair is Kenya’s fourth-smallest lender with a market size index of 0.16 percent, according to Central Bank of Kenya data. It was licensed in June 2017 and nearly doubled its loss in the nine months to September 2019 to Sh250 million, making it one of the few lenders to post losses in Kenya’s banking market of 43 banks.

If approved, CIB will become the first Egyptian bank to set up shop in Kenya, which has in recent years attracted interest from West African lenders. The transaction will be the latest deal among Kenyan lenders in recent months as banks target consolidation to grow and defend their market share.

KCB Group completed the acquisition of National Bank of Kenya in October while CBA Group merged with NIC Group to form the third-biggest bank by assets in Kenya.

Other smaller transactions include Access Bank Plc, Nigeria’s biggest lender, which got the greenlight last month to acquire Transnational Bank Ltd — which is associated with former President Daniel arap Moi family. Diamond Trust Bank acquired Habib Bank Kenya in 2017.

Politician Peter Kenneth is among the 25 shareholders of Mayfair Bank. He is the founder of Mayfair Group, which also owns Mayfair Insurance – one of the key shareholders of the proposed Mayfair Bank.

CIB is one of only two Egyptian lenders ranked in the Forbes Global 2000 listing, which represents the largest corporations in the world and has been angling for a share of East African market.

Mohamed Sultan, the bank’s chief operating officer, told Euromoney that it will ride on the billions of dollar flows in annual trade between Egypt and Kenya to gain market share, a pointer that it is targeting trade finance.

The lender has already established a representative office in Ethiopia (which does not yet issue banking licences to foreigners) and has identified Tanzania and Uganda as potential markets for expansion.

In November, the CIB board approved the bid to buy a Kenyan bank and set off the process to get regulatory approvals in both Egypt and Kenya.

Kenya has been a magnet for foreign banks targeting the local and regional space due to regulatory ease, forex mobility and digital innovation.