January 17, 2020 / 11:53 AM / a month ago

Nigeria's lender Access acquires Kenya's Transnational Bank

NAIROBI/LAGOS (Reuters) - Nigeria’s top lender by assets, Access Bank (ACCESS.LG), has acquired Kenya’s Transnational Bank, the Kenyan central bank said on Friday.

The deal is the latest in the East African nation’s banking sector, where a cap on lending rates, tougher supervision by the central bank and an over-proliferation of lenders has sparked a consolidation round in the industry since 2017.

Access, which has assets of $16 billion, focuses on corporate retail banking and it is expected to boost the growth of Transantional’s business, the Kenyan central bank said in a statement.

“The acquisition is expected to strengthen the resilience of Kenya’s banking sector,” it said.

It did not disclose the terms of the transaction. Transnational has 28 outlets around the country.

The top-tier Nigerian bank has operations in seven African countries and Britain as wells as representative offices in China, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and India.

Access Bank plans to expand to Cameroon, Mozambique and Sierra Leone this year following the acquisition, the bank’s spokesman said.

Patrick Njoroge, the governor of the central bank in Kenya, said last September that he expected consolidation in the industry to continue, adding that market-driven tie-ups were working.

Last year’s all share acquisition of National Bank of Kenya by KCB Group (KCB.NR) last year has been touted as one of the biggest deals in the Kenyan sector.

Access became Nigeria’s biggest lender last year, a status it achieved after it acquired rival Diamond Bank in a $235 million deal that it said was meant to create Africa’s largest bank by customers.

Nigerian lenders have been trying to find new avenues to grow after slow economic growth at home following a 2016 recession, caused loans to turn sour, leaving banks parking cash in government bonds whose yields have now declined.

Reporting by Omar Mohammed in Nairobi and Chijioke Ohuocha in Lagos; Editing by Duncan Miriri and David Evans

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