Collaborative dialogue key to safeguard interests amid shifting banking trends, investor says

Financial expert Nazir Jinnah now says in a surprising twist within Kenya's banking sector, a notable shift is underway as financial institutions increasingly target guarantors rather than primary borrowers when loans face default.

This departure from conventional practices has ignited concerns, sparking fears about its potential repercussions for borrowers and those who stand as guarantors.

Jinnah said traditionally, guarantors played a secondary role, intervening only when the primary borrower defaulted.

"This approach was considered a last resort, with banks exhausting all options with the borrower before turning to the guarantor," Jinnah pointed out in a statement.

He said a discernible change is underway, with reports indicating that certain Kenyan banks are actively pursuing guarantors, even when primary borrowers possess the financial means to repay.

For example, he pointed out the case of English Point Marina which has suffered the fate of the worrying trend. 

Jinnah said English Point Marina was the primary borrower at the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), while Pinewood Beach Resort and Spa was its guarantor.

The bank has since put English Point Marina under receivership while a legal suit is underway challenging its intended takeover of Pinewood Beach Resort and Spa. 

English Point Marina is located by the harbour and consists of 96 apartments, eight penthouses and a 26-room hotel. It is one of the few private projects granted the Vision 2030 Private Sector Flagship status.

This shift, Jinnah said raises questions about the underlying motives and the potential consequences for both borrowers and guarantors.

The investor cautioned that the new shift towards guarantors could erode trust between banks and primary borrowers, who may feel unfairly targeted, especially if they have the means to meet their obligations.

Going forward, he said prospective guarantors, "May become more cautious, knowing that banks might swiftly turn to them in case of default. This could impact the willingness of individuals to provide guarantees for loans."

Jinnah said striking the right balance between risk mitigation and fair treatment of borrowers and guarantors is crucial for maintaining a healthy and sustainable banking environment. 

“As this trend unfolds, stakeholders, including regulatory bodies, banks, borrowers, the Central Bank of Kenya and guarantors, must engage in meaningful dialogue to ensure that the interests of all parties are adequately protected,” he said.

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