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Jamii Bora Bank spared from KQ debt swap deal

Kenya Airways plane

Jamii Bora Bank has been saved from having to convert its loan in Kenya Airways (KQ) into equity, unlike 10 other lenders owed money by the national carrier.

This came as the Nairobi bourse pulled the plug on the airline’s Sh7.9 billion worth of shares to allow for restructuring. Before the suspension, KQ shares were trading at Sh5.3 at the close of trading on Tuesday with 758,100 shares traded.

NSE announced that the Capital Markets Authority had approved the suspension of the shares.

In an interview, former KQ boss Mbuvi Ngunze, who is now the airline’s financial advisor in the debt restructuring exercise, said the other banks agreed to allow Jamii Bora to be paid its loan within five years.

Mr Ngunze told The Standard the negotiation process was “very elaborate” because all players had to consent to the deal.

“We agreed to leave Jamii Bora on the balance sheet of KQ and it will be paid over five years because its debt was much smaller relative to everybody else’s,” he said in an interview.

The rest of the lenders have been made shareholders in KQ through the newly formed KQ Lenders Company Ltd.

Debt worth $217 million (Sh22.5 billion) has been converted to shares and promissory notes issued between the company and the lenders.

The news is a relief for Jamii Bora, which was owed Sh412 million by KQ. It was at risk of running afoul of Central Bank of Kenya’s (CBK’s) key ratios if it had taken the debt-equity swap deal.

As at half year, the lender’s liquidity ratio stood at -4.3 per cent, which is among the weakest in the sector. CBK’s threshold is 20 per cent and therefore Jamii Bora was in breach by 24.3 percentage points.

Treasury CS Henry Rotich said they had renegotiated terms of the deal with Jamii Bora, whose loan was being repaid at an interest rate of nine per cent.

“The banks have converted their loans into shareholding. There was an agreement to have only one bank remain on the balance sheet and that will be repaid over time,” said the CS.

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