Ecobank enters Kenyan market via acquisition

NAIROBI, June 16 (Reuters) - Pan-African banking group Ecobank Transnational Incorporated ETIT.LG on Monday said it had completed entry into the Kenyan market after acquiring a 75 percent stake in Kenya's EABS Bank.

The deal, whose value was not disclosed, will see Ecobank increase its presence on the continent to 23 countries.

“Capital base for EABS is 1.3 billion shillings ($20.06 million). We intend to increase that substantially,” said Ecobank’s regional director for east Africa, Albert Essien.

“Listing on the Nairobi Stock Exchange could be in the works as we develop,” he added at a news conference.

Essien said increased capitalisation will enable the new company, called Ecobank Kenya Ltd, to handle “big ticket transactions” in Kenya, which is east Africa’s biggest economy.

The multinational plans to use Kenya as a platform to venture in the region.

A foothold in Burundi is next in line while Uganda will come in the fourth quarter of this year, Essien said, without giving more details of targets in those countries.

The regional director said Ecobank’s mandate was to double its capacity in a short time.

“Our strategy will be leveraging on the group’s strengths. If you are a Kenyan company, we will give you that outlet to all the other 22 countries,” he said.

One of Kenya’s smaller banks, EABS has eight branches around the country. It started off as a building society in 1959 and its original shareholders will retain a 25 percent stake.

Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Tony Austin