May 21, 2020 / 9:28 AM / 10 days ago

UPDATE 2-Kenya's KCB bank sees a quarter of loans hit by coronavirus

(Updates with Equity Group, central bank)

By Duncan Miriri

NAIROBI, May 21 (Reuters) - Kenya’s biggest bank by assets, KCB Group, has restructured more than 110 billion shillings ($1 billion) of its loans to customers and up to a quarter of its book could be affected by mid-June, its chief executive told Reuters.

The central bank allowed lenders in the East African nation to offer relief to distressed customers in mid-March after the first COVID-19 case was reported.

Total restructured loans for the industry stood at 273 billion shillings, 9.6% of the total, at the end of April, the central bank said in a presentation sent to the media on Thursday.

Equity Group, the second largest lender in Kenya, has changed the terms on loans worth 92 billion shillings ($862 million), or 25% of its portfolio, due to coronavirus-related hardships affecting customers, it said separately on Thursday.

KCB, which also operates in Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and South Sudan, said last week it had changed the terms of loans worth 80 billion shillings, 15% of its portfolio, due to coronavirus-related hardships.

Consequently, the group has not been able to forecast how earnings will be impacted this year, due to the rapidly evolving situation, Joshua Oigara, the CEO, told Reuters in an interview.

The current numbers on restructured loans only cover Kenya, which accounts for 80% of the group’s business, he said.

Under the central bank’s initiative to offer relief to borrowers, struggling individuals and firms can take a three-month repayment holiday, lengthen the tenure of their loans, or opt to just pay the interest for a period of time.

The relief also applies to credit card debt and mortgages but Oigara said the most hard-hit customers are companies in sectors like tourism.

$1 = 106.8000 Kenyan shillings Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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