KCB Bank has dethroned Equity as the largest lender in the country by assets on the back of an aggressive expansion of foreign subsidiaries. KCB’s total assets stood at Ksh1.55 trillion in the year ending 31st December 2022, according regulatory filings, compared to Equity’s total assets of Ksh1.44 trillion.
KCB, however, trailed Equity in profitability, explaining it did not include the full-year profits from its recently acquired subsidiary in DRC. KCB said it absorbed a loss of Ksh65 million out of the DRC business for the month of December.
Had KCB consequently consolidated a full year, it would have absorbed a profit of Ksh3.2 billion from the Congo unit. Shareholders of both banking giants will be keenly waiting to see the performance of both lenders when they release their first-quarter results in the near term.
Equity pipped its Kenyan rivals including KCB in the year ended December 2022 when its profit before tax led the Kenyan banking industry at Ksh59.8 billion, Ksh2.5 billion ahead of KCB’s Ksh57.3 billion.
Disclosures by the two top banks in their annual reports paint a picture of a cutthroat race for control of the banking industry. This comes at a time when the two lenders have embarked on aggressive regional expansion in the last decade as both lenders jostle to grab as much cash.
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KCB Chief Executive, Mr Paul Russo, and his Equity counterpart, Dr James Mwangi, have maintained that the wider eastern Africa region offers immense opportunity for growth and signaled plans to continue with their expansion.
According to the regulatory disclosures, KCB’s customer deposits stood at Ksh1.14 trillion ahead of Equity’s Ksh1.05 trillion. KCB Group and Equity Group are the only two Kenyan-based banks with more than a trillion shillings in customer deposits base.
The gap is even wider in net customer loans with KCB leading the pack with Ksh863 billion, Ksh156 billion more than Equity’s Ksh706 billion loan book. KCB’s shareholder funds stood at Ksh200 billion, while Equity closed the year at Ksh182 billion.
KCB also has the largest branch network in the region. The Bank reported a total of 603 branches in the region in 2022, which is almost double the footprint Equity reported of 337 in 2021, at a time its Group CEO says branchless banking will be the new normal in the near future.
KCB is also the largest employer in the banking sector with over 11,000 employees across the region. Excluding regional businesses, KCB has continued to solidify its market leadership in the Kenyan market. KCB Bank Kenya total assets stood at Ksh971 billion ahead of Equity’s Ksh894 billion, revenue stood at Ksh93 billion compared to Equity’s Ksh86 billion.