The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Crane Bank Invests U.S.$25 Million

This Saturday, Crane bank opens its 25th branch, hitting half of its target of 50 branches by 2015.

Kisoro branch, to be officially opened by President Yoweri Museveni, is the ninth branch to be opened this year, and the third branch in western Uganda - the other two are in Mbarara and Kabale. According to A.R. Kalan, Crane bank's managing director, the bank has invested over $25 million this year in the nine branches - with Kisoro alone taking $3m.

"We believe in taking services closer to the people. Crane bank is an indigenous Ugandan bank, and we are here to stay," Kalan told The Observer.

"We purchase the property ourselves, and we customize it and build it with the requirements of the bank -into a state-of-the-art banking hall. Every town where we have put up a branch, it turns out to be the best structure standing in that town," he added.

The expansion comes at the heels of a 29.4% increase in profits after tax in 2011 - with the bank's equity going up by 38.5%. According to the bank's annual report for 2011, its total assets grew from Shs 783bn in 2010 to Shs 962bn in 2011. The bank's loan book grew from Shs 410bn in 2010 to Shs 525bn in 2011, while the customer deposit grew from Shs 580bn in 2010 to Shs 685bn in 2011.

"The bank is one of the best capitalised banks in Uganda which it has shown over the years by winning various awards," said Kalan.

Crane bank recorded yet another milestone - The Banker, an associate publication of the Financial Times has awarded it the Bank of the Year award (the seventh time in nine years). Crane bank started its operations on August 21, 1995, opening its first branch in 1996 in Jinja where it operated with one branch for 10 years.

This year, the bank is also taking over National Bank of Commerce (NBC) as a way of helping Bank of Uganda save the interests of NBC's customers.

Under the terms of agreement with BoU, Crane bank opened the two former branches of NBC on Monday, to allow NBC customers obtain new accounts with Crane bank which would entitle them to transact from any of the bank's 24 branches across the country and 75 ATM network.

"We will be providing free ATM cards, cheque books to former NBC customers," Kalan noted.

"We welcome all former NBC customers to the Crane bank family and we assure them of the best of services."

In response to Bank of Uganda's call to commercial banks to reduce their interests in line with the Central Bank rate, Kalan said they dropped their prime lending rate by two per cent.

"We are looking at the market movement and based on the market movements, we will make the necessary changes as per demand and supply of the market," he said.

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