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Kenya’s Equity to buy Congo’s second-largest bank1 minute read

Equity Group Holdings plans to acquire a controlling stake in Banque Commerciale du Congo

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Kenya’s Equity to buy Congo’s second-largest bank
(File photo)

Kenya’s Equity Bank has announced plans to acquire the second-largest lender in the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of the East African group’s strategy to expand across Africa.

The bank’s parent company, Equity Group Holdings, has entered into a non-binding agreement to acquire a controlling stake in Banque Commerciale du Congo.

“The proposed transaction is an opportunity for EGH to deliver the vision of building sub-Saharan Africa’s premier financial institution through delivering innovative products and services to customers, including, in particular, the effective use of technology,” the company said.

Founded as a provider of mortgage financing in the 1980s, Equity bank has expanded rapidly in the last 15 years by targeting previously unbanked, low-income depositors and is now Kenya’s biggest lender by market value and Africa’s largest bank by customer numbers.

Equity acquired Congo’s seventh-biggest bank, ProCredit Bank Congo, in 2015 and in April agreed to buy Atlas Mara’s banking operations in Rwanda, Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania, in a deal worth about $106m. Equity now has operations in eight African countries. It did not disclose how much it will pay for the stake in BCDC, which was founded in 1909.

BCDC had total assets of $706m at the end of 2017. The Congolese government owns a 25 per cent stake in the lender.

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President Kenyatta launches Kenya’s first green bond at London Stock Exchange

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President Uhuru Kenyatta today rang the bell to kick off the trading of Kenya’s first green bond at the London Stock Exchange (LSE). Speaking during the launch, the President urged UK investors to use Kenya as a gateway to investing in Africa and AS a bridge to the emerging market of more than 1.2 billion people created by the African Continental Free Trade Area.

“Kenya is one of the top ten fastest growing economies on the continent and also one of the most pro-business nations in Africa,” President Kenyatta said. The President is in London to attend the UK–Africa Investment Summit.

The $40 million (over 4 billion shillings) bond by Nairobi-based property developer Acorn Holdings, started trading today at the LSE and becomes the first Kenya shilling corporate green bond to be listed in the United Kingdom. The bond, which was first listed at the Nairobi Stock Exchange last week, will help Acorn Holdings raise funds to build environmentally friendly accommodation for 50,000 university students in Nairobi.

The Kenyan leader applauded last year’s signing of an MoU by the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) and the London Stock Exchange to work with Kenyan companies to help them expand their footprint by jointly listing on the bourse in Nairobi and in London. 

“I note that to date the LSE has admitted over 200 bonds from across the world, raising over 33 billion Pound Sterling worth of capital for sustainable development,” he pointed out. 

Secretary of State for International Development, Rt. Honourable Alok Sharma, said one of the reasons the green bond was happening was because of the support the UK government has provided in terms of the regulation environment and the partial guarantees for investors.

“This is a landmark moment here as well as in the whole of London for we are here today because of the UK-Africa Investment Summit. We have over eight of the 50 fast growing economies in the world in Africa,” Mr Sharma said.

President Kenyatta, along with other African leaders, is in London to attend the UK–Africa Investment Summit.

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Tanzania to accelerate industrialization with access to more gas supply

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Tanzania is on the verge of being connected with more gas supplies regions. This plan to boost electricity generation was announced by the country’s Deputy Minister for Energy, Subaira Mgalu. The regions involved include Arusha, Dodoma, Tanga, Kilimanjaro and Morogoro.

According to Mgalu, the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) has already embarked on a grand infrastructural project to connect natural gas for domestic and industrial use in the Dar es Salaam, Coast, Lindi and Mtwara regions.

“The plan is to reduce dependence of electricity as the only source of power for production by the industries,” he says.

Tanzania is in the process of implementing a mega hydropower at Stiegler’s Gorge along the Rufiji River in the Selous Game Reserve that will produce 2,100 megawatts

The country, with a population of approximately 55 million, has just 1,500MW of installed grid capacity.

Earlier, the Tanzanian President John Magufuli, promised to turn the country into a middle income industrial economy by 2025.

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Kenya seeks $1 billion World Bank loan

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In a bid to cut debt from overseas capital markets after a borrowing binge in recent years,Kenya is in advanced talks with the World Bank for “a fairly priced” loan of up to 100 billion shillings ($991.57 million), nearly half of its required external funding this fiscal year.

The World Bank, which has multiple development funding programmes with Kenya worth billions of dollars, is seen as one of the viable alternatives to commercial debt.

The Washington D.C.-based financier lent money to the Kenyan ministry of finance for the first time last year, changing past practice where it channelled cash straight to the projects, bypassing the Treasury.

The loan size will be determined by how much its funders can put together, says Julius Muia, principal secretary in the Kenyan Finance ministry.

“We are thinking something between 50-100 billion (shillings) depending on what kind of interest there will be”. The loan will be cheaper than commercial debt, in line with the government’s policy of cutting its funding costs, Muia adds.

Kenya became a middle-income country in 2014 after it rebased the economy, meaning it cannot secure funds from the World Bank at the concessional rates offered to low-income states.

The finance ministry has set a budget deficit of 6.3% of GDP for this financial year to the end of June with about 213 billion shillings expected from external sources.

The balance will be raised through Kenya’s first sovereign green bond, with the country taking advantage of next week’s UK-Africa investment summit in London to gauge investor demand for the potential issue.

“It is taking shape as we go,” Muia says.

The Treasury projects that the budget deficit will shrink to 5.7% of GDP in 2020/21. The gap, which peaked at 9.1% of GDP in 2016/17 financial year, is expected to narrow further to the desired level of 3.3% in 2023/24

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