Access Bank acquires National Bank of Kenya as part of East African expansion drive

David Afolayan
Access Bank believes that acquiring the NBK would help it expand in the country and take advantage of growing trade in the region…
Access Bank acquires National Bank of Kenya as part of East African expansion drive

Nigeria’s Access Bank Plc plans has announced that it has signed a binding agreement to acquire the National Bank of Kenya (NBK) from the KCB Group Plc. According to a tweet by the official handle of the bank, the deal is subject to conditions which include receipt of all regulatory approvals from the Central Bank of Kenya.

KCB, Kenya’s second-biggest lender, bought NBK, a medium-sized lender that was then controlled by the state, in a rescue deal engineered by the central bank in 2019. KCB had initially indicated it was invested in NBK for the long haul. However, narrowing capital adequacy ratios in the last two years may have prompted a rethink, said Eric Musau, head of research at Nairobi-based Standard Investment Bank told Reuters.

According to its statement, Access Bank believes that acquiring the NBK would help it expand in the country and take advantage of growing trade in the region.

The lenders signed an agreement for the purchase today (Wednesday). The acquisition will see KCB sell 100 per cent of NBK at 1.25 of its book value. The deal is expected to close in the next six to nine months, Paul Russo, KCB Group’s CEO, told an investor briefing. KCB Group’s shares have been up by 9.9% following the announcement of the deal.

This is Access Bank’s second acquisition in Kenya so far. The Nigerian bank also bought the Transnational Bank Limited in 2019.

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Access Bank’s Growing African Presence

The Nigerian bank plans to double the share of assets outside its home market by 2027, the company said previously as it opts to outgrow competition from the rapidly scaling fintech companies in its home market and other financial institutions on the continent.

The deal also builds on the bank’s growing operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, as well as its acquisitions or plans to acquire stakes in Uganda’s Finance Trust Bank Limited in January, a controlling share in African Banking Corporation of Tanzania, and Standard Chartered Bank Plc’s consumer, private and business-banking operations in that country.

Access Bank acquires National Bank of Kenya as part of East African expansion drive
Customers are seen outside the banking hall at the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), Kencom branch in Nairobi, Kenya July 10, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

This also builds on Access Bank’s Mergers and Acquisition (M&A) streak across the continent, acquiring Grobank in South Africa, BancABC in Botswana and Mozambique, Diamond Bank in Nigeria, and Finibanco Angola.

Speaking on the deal, the CEO of Access Bank, Mr Roosevelt Ogbonna, in a statement said, “The transaction represents an important milestone for the bank as it moves us closer to the achievement of our five-year strategic plan through increased scale in the Kenyan market.”

Read also: UBA and Access Bank top the chart as Nigerian banks generate N96.483bn e-business revenue

According to KCB Group CEO, Mr Paul Russo, the sale of the lender to Access Bank will help turn around the fortunes of the struggling subsidiary. KCB, which is Kenya’s biggest bank, bought the National Bank of Kenya in 2019.

“The board evaluated three options and made the decision that to protect the value and the efforts we’ve put in NBK, the right thing to do is to accept a binding offer from Access Group,” Russo said while releasing KCB Group’s 2023 financial results.


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