, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 16 – Helios Investment Partners has announced plans to sell 12.2 percent stake in Equity Group to Norfund and NorFinance (a joint venture investment company between Norfund and Norwegian private investors) subject to regulatory approvals.
The 12.2 percent stake represents half of Helios stake in Equity Group.
Equity Group is a large financial services company, with an asset base estimated at over Sh339.44 billion and shareholders’ equity in excess of Sh57.1 billion as of 30 September 2014.
The banks has a customer base in excess of 9.2 million in the five East African countries that it serves, making it the largest commercial bank in the region, by customer numbers.
Norfund Managing Director Kjell Roland said the company looks forward to working with all stakeholders to grow the business further in particular as the bank embarks on its new phase of strategic development.
“This investment is strongly in line with Norfund’s strategy to support banks targeting entry level and mass-market retail banking, and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and strengthens our financial institutions investment portfolio in Africa,” Roland said.
“Helios is delighted to introduce Norfund and NorFinance as new, like-minded investors. Norfund and NorFinance share Equity’s core values of partnership, promoting financial inclusion and strong corporate governance. We are proud to have played a role in the bank’s growth and success to date, and look forward to continuing to partner with Equity in the next phase of its development and to support its direct positive impact on the lives of people in the communities within which it operates,” said Helios Managing Director Babatunde Soyoye.
On his part Equity Group Holdings Managing Director James Mwangi, explained the reasons for Equity seeking an alliance with Norfund.
“Equity has always aimed to be an innovative and inclusive provider of financial solutions. We are excited by the expanded opportunities this development presents, to combine our market leading position with two strong international partners who bring along their substantial resources as well as expertise which we believe will be invaluable in accelerating the growth of our business. This transaction which is currently the largest of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa brings diversification to Equity’s capital base which is important for the group,” Mwangi added.
The Financial Times’ 2014 listing of the world’s Top 1,000 banks shows that Equity Bank is Africa’s lender with the highest return on assets – an indicator of profitability that is determined by dividing the net income by total average assets.
Last year the company formed Equity Group holdings that will oversee other subsidiaries which are at the moment operating in various countries in the region.
Some of the subsidiaries will now be Equity Bank Kenya Limited, Equity Bank Uganda Limited, Equity Bank Tanzania Limited, Equity Bank South Sudan Limited and Equity Bank Rwanda Limited.
The moves also come even as the bank is seeking to launch its thin SIM technology through its Mobile Virtual Network subsidiary Finserve Africa Limited.
The bank expects to receive about 5 million thin SIMs in January before the official launch of the technology.
At the moment that bank has distributed at least 200,000 normal SIM cards for customers with dual SIM handsets as well as selling phones to those without.