May 6, 2019 / 7:29 AM / 2 months ago

Kenya's KCB Group looks to buy banks in Rwanda, DRC -CEO

NAIROBI, May 6 (Reuters) - Kenya’s biggest lender by assets, KCB Group, plans to buy a bank in Rwanda and one in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), its chief executive said.

CEO Joshua Oigara, who was speaking to reporters late on Friday, did not reveal the identity of the two banks the lender is considering acquiring or the timeframe.

KCB is also planning to open a representative office in China, to take advantage of growing trade links between East Africa and China, he said.

Kenyan banks have announced several deals since the government capped commercial lending rates in 2016, crimping their profit margins and forcing them to look for survival strategies, including consolidation.

Last month, KCB offered to buy National Bank of Kenya (NBK) in a swap of one KCB share for 10 NBK shares in a deal seen helping NBK out of its perennial liquidity challenges.

CBA Group, a privately held bank, is in the process of merging with NIC Bank to form the third biggest bank by assets in East Africa.

The second largest bank by assets, Equity Group, said last week it was in talks with London-listed financial services firm Atlas Mara Limited about acquiring stakes in banks in Rwanda, Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania.

Smaller transactions have included Diamond Trust Bank’s acquisition of Habib Bank Kenya in 2017. (Reporting by Duncan Miriri; editing by Jason Neely)

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