Kenya Banks – Super Profits Back?

The simultaneous release on Thursday morning of half-year results of Kenya’s three largest banks portrays a picture of the banks resuming their super profits streak even as the government looks set to repeal interest rate caps later this year.

But the results are deceptive in that the banks have all shown flat growth in loans, despite the growth in customers deposits which have increasingly been channelled towards funding government debt, at the expense of the private sector.

The results showed:

  • Flat growth in loans: e.g while KCB deposits are up by Kshs 40 billion this year, net loans are actually lower than December 2017. 
  • Decline in assets and capital – as the banks noted that the adjusted capital ratios were due to CBK guidance on IFRS9. 
  • NPA’s up.  
  • Growth in the diaspora and the East Africa region.
  • KCB is expected to complete  the acquisition of Imperial Bank later this year

James Mwangi CEO of Equity spoke of the bank’s total income now being ahead of where they were in June 2016 before the interest rate caps were set by Parliament, and that the June 2018  results were achieved despite losing 40% of loan interest income in Kenya. Interest rate caps which were reintroduced in Kenya in 2016 were pushed at a time when large banks were recording “super profits” and which parliamentarians attributed to them charging high-interest rates to borrowers.

Another factor has been cost efficiency improvements through digitization and a move away from fixed investments in brick and mortar. Equity also reported that 97% of customer transactions were done outside branches and these accounted for 55% of the value of transactions, and their CEO said that in future, branches will be for high-value transactions, advisory services, and cross-selling products.

With the result of the three, along with that of Barclays and Stanbic earlier this month, we have results of five of the seven largest banks in Kenya and none from the smaller banks. Last year,, the top -ten banks took over 90% of the industry profits. What does IFRS9 portend for the smaller banks?

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