Kenyan lender KCB picks banking subsidiary head Paul Russo as group CEO

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Customers wait to be served in the banking hall at the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), Kencom branch in Nairobi, Kenya July 10, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

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NAIROBI, May 24 (Reuters) - Kenya's second-biggest lender by assets, KCB Group (KCB.NR), named Paul Russo, a human resources expert who turned around a subsidiary bank, as its new chief executive.

Russo, who takes up the post on Wednesday, is KCB Group's regional business director and also managing director of NBK, a KCB subsidiary bank in Kenya. He replaces Joshua Oigara, who has been CEO since 2013 and whose contract came to an end, KCB said.

Russo served as group head of human resources at KCB before being appointed to run NBK in 2019 after it was acquired by KCB.

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Under his stewardship, NBK's fortunes were transformed and the subsidiary's profit grew more than four times to reach 1.1 billion shillings ($9.4 million) last year.

Kenya's central bank engineered KCB's takeover of NBK to deal with its persistent bad performance and inadequate capital.

In previous roles, Russo served as receiver manager for Chase Bank of Kenya, after it collapsed and before it was taken over by SBM Bank of Mauritius. He also previously worked for Barclays (BARC.L) and PwC in HR management.

KCB's growth under Oigara included acquisitions in Tanzania and Rwanda, tripling the balance sheet and more than doubling annual pretax profit. KCB also operates in South Sudan, Uganda and Burundi.

Waiting in Russo's in-tray is a potential deal in Democratic Republic of Congo, a fast-growing market where KCB has been scouting for an acquisition.

($1 = 116.5000 Kenyan shillings)

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Reporting by Duncan Miriri; Editing by David Goodman and Edmund Blair

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