KCB Bank has dethroned Equity as the largest lender in Kenya by asset size on the back of an aggressive expansion of foreign subsidiaries, according to regulatory filings.
The bank reported total assets of KES 1.55 trillion in the year ending December 2022, compared to Equity’s total assets of KES 1.44 trillion. KCB also had higher customer deposits, net customer loans and shareholder funds than its rival.
However, KCB trailed Equity in profitability in the same period, partly due to a loss of KES 65 million from its newly acquired subsidiary in DRC. The bank said it did not include the full-year profits from the Congo unit, which would have added KES 3.2 billion to its bottom line.
The disclosures by the two top banks paint a picture of a cutthroat race for control of the banking industry in Kenya and the wider eastern Africa region. Both lenders have embarked on aggressive regional expansion in the last decade, aiming to tap into new markets and opportunities.
KCB chief executive Paul Russo and his Equity counterpart James Mwangi have maintained that the region offers immense potential for growth and signaled plans to continue with their expansion.
KCB has the largest branch network in the region, with 603 branches across seven countries. It is also the largest employer in the banking sector, with over 11,000 employees. Equity has 337 branches across six countries and employs over 7,000 people.
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 KES 59.8 billion, ahead of KCB’s KES 57.3 billion.