Kenya's I&M acquires Orient Bank

Tuesday May 04 2021
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One of Orient Bank Kampala branches in Kampala. Courtesy photo

By U R N

A Kenyan banking group, I&M Holdings has entered the Ugandan market with the acquisition of Orient Ban Ltd, the 12th largest in Uganda.  

The acquisition sees I&M take 90% of the bank from the UK-based investment group 8 miles LLP and Morka Holdings Limited, a financial company registered in Mauritius.  

I&M and Orient Bank signed the acquisition agreement in July 2020, which was completed last month, after receiving the necessary approvals from the Central Bank of Kenya, Bank of Uganda, Capital Markets Authority of Kenya, and the COMESA Competition Authority.  

“The move underscores I&M Group’s commitment to its growth and expansion strategy in Eastern Africa, where Uganda was the missing link in the Group’s strategic effort to set up its presence in all East African countries,” a statement by I&M reads in part.  

The company has operations in Kenya, Mauritius, Rwanda, Tanzania, and now Uganda.     

Last week, there was panic among customers, after a rumour that the bank was closing at the end of the month. Calm returned after Orient dismissed the rumour, but said they were closing three branches in Mbarara, Gulu, and Mbale.

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READ: BoU not aware of plan to sell 90 per cent of Orient Bank

The closure of the branches was a reflection of the developments in the banking sector as commercial banks are reducing their branch networks to cut costs. Banks are becoming more reliant on agency banking which has seen Ugandans able to access services at 10,000 agencies, up from less than 600 branches four years ago.

I&M says their key focus of this strategy is to seek opportunities to invest at a local and regional level enabling the bank to serve the needs of all customers while promoting trade flows within the region.
“This development supports the Group’s Business growth initiatives through diversification of revenue streams by entry into new markets and extension of its Corporate, Business, Personal Banking, as well as Treasury and Trade Finance solutions, to all its customers operating in Uganda.”

I&M now joins Equity, KCB, ABC, DTB, NCBA, and NC Bank as the other Kenya-based banks with operations in Uganda.  

The Group Executive Director, Sarit Raja Shah says, “The acquisition of OBL will place I&M Bank in an advantageous position to capitalise on the growth in the Eastern African economies and thereby ultimately increasing shareholder value.”    

“This acquisition is expected to give the Group greater capacity to grow profitably, through extending our network to our Regional customers. Furthermore, it demonstrates our continued leadership role in the industry across East Africa,” Sarit Raja Shah added.

With the acquisition, I&M takes over loans worth Ushs 255b, and customer deposits worth Ushs 603b held by Orient at its 14 branches countrywide. The bank also has a customer base of 70,000 and a staff component of 340 employees, according to Kumaran Pather, Orient Bank CEO.      

I&M Group says they prefer to make mergers and acquisitions as opposed to starting a new entity. “The I&M Group will continue to focus on mergers and acquisitions as part of its growth strategy, as we continue to enhance our shareholders’ value and to provide our customers with a wide network of banking solutions across the region.”

Other acquisitions it has completed previously include I&M Burbidge Capital Limited, a financial advisory company in Kenya and Uganda, Giro Commercial Bank Limited in Kenya, CF Union Bank in Tanzania, BCR Bank in Rwanda, and First City Bank in Mauritius.    

Sarit Raja Shah, noted, “Uganda has made great strides in improving access to financial services across the country. The partnership with Orient Bank Limited is very timely since the Group plans to play a significant role in the growth of the banking sector in Uganda, as it has done in other East African markets.”     

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