The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) on Tuesday confirmed the acquisition of 84.89 per cent shareholding of Century Microfinance Bank Limited (Century MFB) by Branch International Limited (Branch) effective January 1, 2022.
This follows CBK’s approval on December 30, 2021, under Section 19 (4) of the Microfinance Act and approval by the Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury and Planning on January 7, 2022, pursuant to Section 19(3)(b) of the Microfinance Act.
“CBK welcomes this transaction that is a critical component of Century MFB’s transformation plan. It will strengthen Century MFB and support the stability of the microfinance banking sector,” the regulator said in a statement.
The National Treasury of Kenya exempted Branch International Inc from section 19(1) of the Microfinance Act, 2006, for a period of four years from the 1st January 2020 until 31 December 2025 in connection with the acquisition and direct or indirect holding of ordinary shares in Century Microfinance Bank Limited.
Branch is one of the largest mobile application based lenders in the country and brings financial services to the emerging markets by leveraging on the power of technology.
Branch was incorporated in Kenya on April 2, 2015, and is wholly owned by Branch International Holding Ltd, a company incorporated in Mauritius. Branch International Holding Ltd is owned by Branch International Inc (BI), a company incorporated in the State of Delaware in the United States of America.
Branch’s total assets stood at Ksh.1.1 billion as of December 31, 2020.
Rose Muturi, Branch East Africa Managing Director says the acquisition will accelerate efforts by Branch International to expand its local operations in its strategy towards a Pan-African digital bank.
“This approval is a major national milestone towards the deepening of financial access and continues to enhance Kenya’s position as an investment destination. It will also allow the conclusion of this transaction which has been made possible by the support and co-operation of Century Microfinance Bank, one of the leading players in the Microfinance banking space,” Muturi said.
Century MFB was licensed by CBK in September 2012, to carry out a nationwide microfinance banking business. The MFB has two branches, one at the Head Office located along Moi Avenue, Nairobi and the other in Gikomba.
Century Microfinance Bank Chairman Mr Peterson Mwangi said the acquisition will boost the national financial inclusion efforts as the firm continues to adapt and deliver digital-driven solutions.
“Century Micro Finance Bank was first set up as a deposit-taking microfinance institution focusing on agricultural finance and offering agriculture-based credit and savings products. We have, however, expanded our portfolio to cover other financial services to the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that serve the farmers as suppliers and buyers, and the acquisition by Branch International will provide much-needed impetus for growth,” Mwangi said.
It is categorised as a small microfinance bank with a market share of below 1 per cent of the microfinance banking sector as at December 31, 2021. The institution’s primary focus is provision of financial services to smallholder farmers and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).