KCB overtakes Equity as Kenya's largest bank with Sh1.55tr assets

Equity chief executive James Mwangi and his KCB counterpart Paul Russo. Disclosures by the two top banks paint a picture of a cutthroat race to become regional banking kings. [File, Standard] 

KCB Bank has dethroned Equity as the largest lender in the country by asset size on the back of an aggressive expansion of foreign subsidiaries.

KCB’s total assets stood at Sh1.55 trillion in the year ending December, compared to Equity’s total assets of Sh1.44 trillion, regulatory filings show.

However, KCB trailed Equity in profitability in the period with KCB stating it did not include the full-year profits from its recently acquired subsidiary in DRC.

KCB said it absorbed a loss of Sh65 million out of the DRC business for the month of December.

Had KCB consequently consolidated a full year, it would have absorbed a profit of Sh3.2 billion from the Congo unit.

Shareholders of both banking giants will be keenly waiting to see the performance of both lenders when they release their first-quarter results in the near term.

Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) branch at Kipande House along Kenyatta Avenue, Nairobi.  [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Equity pipped its Kenyan rivals including KCB in the year ended December 2022 when its profit before tax led the Kenyan banking industry at Sh59.8 billion equivalent to Sh2.5 billion ahead of KCB’s Sh57.3 billion.

The disclosures by the two top banks in their annual reports paint a picture of a cutthroat race for control of the banking industry.

This comes at a time the two lenders have embarked on aggressive regional expansion in the last decade as both lenders jostle to grab as much cash to become the region’s banking kings.

KCB chief executive Paul Russo and his Equity counterpart James Mwangi have maintained that the wider eastern Africa region offers an immense opportunity for new growth and signalled plans to continue with their expansion.

According to the regulatory disclosures, KCB’s customer deposits stood at Sh1.14 trillion ahead of Equity’s Sh1.05 trillion. KCB Group and Equity Group are the only two Kenyan-based banks with more than a trillion shillings in customer deposits base.

The gap is even wider in net customer loans with KCB leading the pack with Sh863 billion, equivalent to Sh156 billion more than Equity’s Sh706 billion loan book.

Equity Bank Four Ways branch along Muindi Mbingu Street, Nairobi. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

KCB’s shareholder funds stood at Sh200 billion. Ahead of Equity’s Sh182 billion.

KCB also has the largest branch network in the region. The Bank reported a total of 603 branches in the region in 2022. Which is almost double the footprint Equity reported of 337 in 2021 at a time its Group CEO says branchless banking will be the new normal in the near future.

KCB is also the largest employer in the banking sector with over 11,000 employees across the region.

Excluding regional businesses, KCB has continued to solidify its market leadership in the Kenyan market.

KCB Bank Kenya total assets stood at Sh971 billion ahead of Equity’s Sh894 billion, revenue stood at Sh93 billion ahead of Equity’s Sh86 billion.

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