KCB edges out Equity as Kenya’s largest bank with Sh1.55 trillion assets

The race for bragging rights in Kenya’s banking industry has taken a new twist after KCB dethroned Equity as the largest bank in the country by assets on the back of an aggressive regional expansion.

According to the latest regulatory filings, KCB’s total assets stood at Kes1.55 trillion in the year ending December, compared to Equity’s Kes1.44 trillion total assets.

However, KCB trailed Equity in profitability in the period with the former stating it did not include the full-year profits from its recently acquired subsidiary, Trust Merchant Bank, in the DRC.

KCB said it absorbed a loss of Kes65 million out of the DRC business for the month of December. Had KCB consequently consolidated a full year, it would have absorbed a profit of Kes3.2 billion from the Congo unit.

Analysts and shareholders of both banking giants will be keenly waiting to see the performance of both lenders when they release their first-quarter results.

Equity pipped its Kenyan rivals including KCB in the year ended December 2022 when its profit before tax led the Kenyan banking industry at Kes59.8 billion equivalent to Kes2.5 billion ahead of KCB’s Kes57.3 billion.

Read also: Safaricom turns to the internet as profits drop

The disclosures by the two top banks in their annual reports paint a picture of a cutthroat race for control of the banking industry. This comes at a time when the two lenders have embarked on aggressive regional expansion in the last decade as both lenders jostle to grab as much cash to become the region’s banking kings.

KCB chief executive Paul Russo and his Equity counterpart Dr James Mwangi have maintained that the wider eastern Africa region offers an immense opportunity for new growth and signaled plans to continue with their expansion.

According to the regulatory disclosures, KCB’s customer deposits stood at Kes1.14 trillion ahead of Equity’s Kes1.05 trillion. KCB Group and Equity Group are the only two Kenyan-based banks with more than a trillion shillings in customer deposits base.

The gap is even wider in net customer loans with KCB leading the pack with Kes863 billion, equivalent to Kes156 billion more than Equity’s Kes706 billion loan book. KCB’s shareholder funds stood at Kes200 billion. Ahead of Equity’s Kes182 billion.

KCB also has the largest branch network in the region. The bank reported a total of 603 branches in the region in 2022. Which is almost double the footprint Equity reported of 337 in 2021 at a time its Group CEO says branchless banking will be the new normal in the near future.

KCB is also the largest employer in the banking sector with over 11,000 employees across the region. Excluding regional businesses, KCB has continued to solidify its market leadership in the Kenyan market.

KCB Bank Kenya total assets stood at Kes971 billion ahead of Equity’s Kes894 billion, revenue stood at Kes93 billion ahead of Equity’s Kes86 billion.

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