Troubled Chase Bank to reopen before Imperial Bank

Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has begun evaluating offers from strategic investors interested in buying out Chase Bank giving strong indications that the lender could reopen soon. The regulator said yesterday it has received more than five offers from both local and foreign suitors highlighting the attractiveness of the mid-sized lender that was brought down by liquidity challenges and governance issues.

“Several parties in upwards of five have expressed interest…we are evaluating the offers with an objective to re-open the bank as soon as possible, time is of essence,” said CBK Governor, Patrick Njoroge. He dismissed the recent wave of closure of banks as a blow to the financial sector.

“Is it a blow, No, it’s a new normal, there has been strong and favourable assessment by investment analysts and we think it is a good development,” he said. It is the third mid-tier lender to be placed under statutory management within six months, but the regulator said huge interest from investors and strong shareholder willingness to breathe new life into the lender had increased its re-opening prospects.

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“However there needs to be a credible plan for re-opening and sustaining its operations, we have to take it with courage and sureness,” said Njoroge. The governor said shareholders in chase had a high concentration and are more cohesive in discussions compared to those of Imperial bank, he described as too difficult to deal with.

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“Chase is much easier because we know where the stolen money is and we are trying to claw it back. it’s a complicated process but we don’t take our responsibility lightly,” said Njoroge. Chase banks vibrancy in leveraging on technology to ease payments to customers, its focus on SME’s, youth, women and investments groups have been praised as other aspects that would earn it another life.

“It had an interesting DNA, but this does not make up the business, if directors had done a better job they would have been saved,” he said. Upto Sh 73 billion in 170,000 accounts have been held as deposits across 62 Chase bank branches across the country.

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