Business & FinanceKenya

Equity Bank gets Sh13bn discount so it can buy four African banks

Equity Bank

Equity Bank Group recently relaunched with one of its pillars being that it aimed to take its asset base to the trillion shilling mark. It seems that it has already started down on that path.

The bank is set to get a Sh13 billion discount on its purchase of four banks in Rwanda, Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania from a London-listed investment group.

James Mwangi, the Equity CEO
James Mwangi, the Equity CEO

Atlas Mara Limited says through its trading report to the London Stock Exchange (NSE) that it marked down the value of the four banks after the Equity Bank deal prompted a due diligence on their financial health.

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Equity Bank will offer 6.72 percent of its shares worth Sh10.9 billion to Atlas Mara, meaning that the valuation of the four banks dropped by more than half. This is a reflection that Atlas had weak earnings.

The Kenya lender is set to acquire Atlas via a share swap. It will get 62 percent of the share capital of Rwanda’s Banque Populaire du Rwanda and 100 percent of African Banking Corporation of Zambia, African Banking Corporation Tanzania and African Banking Corporation Mozambique.

The lower valuation was big enough to drag Atlas Mara into a net loss of nearly the same amount (Sh13.1 billion) in the half year ended June, according to a trading update by the multinational.Atlas Mara says the deal with Equity triggered a re-measurement of the value of the four banks “to the lower of cost or fair value less cost to sell, resulting in a loss of $125.6 million (Sh13 billion).”

James Mwangi, the Equity CEO
James Mwangi, the Equity CEO

As a result of this re-measurement, the group reported a net loss after tax for the first half of 2019 of $126.4 million (Sh13.1 billion) compared to $28.6 million (Sh2.9 billion) profit for the prior year period.

Intangible assets

Atlas Mara says the valuation drop is mainly due to writing off intangible assets and the premium it had paid when acquiring the four banks.

Atlas Mara, whose offices are in the British Virgin Islands, could receive further unspecified compensation from Equity in the future conditional on improved performance of the subsidiaries it is offloading.

For Equity, the deal gives it a piece of the Zambia and Mozambique market, adding to its current presence in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Equity is also simultaneously seeking to acquire a controlling stake in Banque Commerciale du Congo (BCDC) in a cash transaction.

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