Barclays Kenya in No Rush for Deals as State Seeks Consolidation

Barclays Bank of Kenya Ltd. is in no rush to acquire smaller rivals in the East African nation as authorities push for consolidation in the industry.

While the subsidiary of Barclays Plc’s South African unit remains “open minded about new opportunities,” it will avoid “acquiring smaller banks for the sake of it,” Managing Director Jeremy Awori said Thursday in an interview in the capital, Nairobi.

Kenya, a $55 billion economy, has 43 commercial banks and a mortgage finance company, according to the central bank. The government has proposed banks raise their core capital to a minimum of 5 billion shillings ($49 million) by the end of 2018, from 1 billion shillings.

Bank consolidation could be “costly and time consuming,” Awori said.

“We are not aggressively fishing to buy other banks,” Awori said. “We have to make sure they add value to the business.”

Kenya’s third-biggest lender by market value plans to increase mortgages and lending to companies, he said. The bank has 30 billion shillings for small- and medium-enterprise credit, and is extending unsecured loans of as much as 15 million shillings to small businesses.

The lender increased its profit after tax by 8 percent to 4.55 billion shillings in the six months to June. Customer deposits climbed 10 percent to 163 billion shillings, the company said in an earnings presentation.