The Competition Authority of Kenya gave Nigeria’s biggest lender the go-ahead to acquire 93.57% of Transnational Bank Ltd., as consolidation in the East African nation’s banking industry gathers pace.
Access Bank Plc’s purchase follows the merger of NIC Group Plc and Commercial Bank of Africa Ltd., and KCB Group Ltd.’s acquisition of National Bank of Kenya Ltd. earlier this year. Access Bank joins other Nigerian lenders Guaranty Trust Bank Ltd. and United Bank of Africa Plc in operating in the Kenyan market.
The deal bodes well for the Central Bank of Kenya’s push for consolidation in an industry of more than 40 lenders and a population of almost 50 million people. Kenya has more banks per person than South Africa and Nigeria, Africa’s two largest economies.
In the past two years, SBM Holdings Ltd. of Mauritius bought up some of the assets of Chase Bank Kenya Ltd. and the entire capital of Fidelity Commercial Bank Ltd.
Transnational, which swung to a full-year pretax loss of 98.5 million shillings ($951,690) in 2018, lends mainly to the agricultural sector, according to its annual report. Non-performing loans ballooned 58% to 1.85 billion shillings, while loans rose 0.5% to 6.63 billion shillings, it said.
Access Bank and Transnational didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.