KCB Group, the second largest bank in the region by asset base, has pronounced itself in the battle for the largely untapped Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) market.
This is after sealing an agreement to acquire 85 per cent shareholding in Trust Merchant Bank (TMB) - one of the DRC's largest banks, with a deal for a full takeover after two years.
"The transaction will enable KCB to accelerate its market presence in the DRC in the near term by leveraging on TMB's 18-year operational history, vast branch network, valuable local customer relationships and deep knowledge of local business dynamics," said the lender's chief executive Paul Russo (pictured).
"In addition to the core banking business of TMB, the existence of an insurance subsidiary Afrissur SA will provide an opportunity for KCB to diversify its offerings in DRC's insurance sector. This Transaction will provide KCB with a strategic foundation to capitalise on cross-border trade from the Indian to the Atlantic Oceans."
KCB joins a growing list of Kenyan companies including rival Equity Bank which are looking for investment opportunities in DRC.
This is as the mineral-rich economy turns out to be a fertile hunting ground for top firms, with the World Bank and the African Development Bank tipping the nation as the next frontier for growth.
Yesterday, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) rallied Kenyan lenders to conquer regional markets within regulation. DRC is the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa offering huge untapped opportunities for access to one of the world's last economic frontiers.
It is endowed with exceptional natural resources, including minerals such as cobalt and copper, hydropower potential, significant arable land, immense biodiversity, and the world's second-largest rainforest.