The Star (Nairobi)

6 December 2012

Kenya: Co-Operative Bank Eyes Somalia Market

Co-operative Bank is set to open its first branch in South Sudan by February and is further looking at the possibility of investing in Somalia, managing directorn Gideon Muriuki said yesterday.

Muriuki said they had finalised on the joint venture agreement with the Government of South Sudan which will hold 49 per cent shareholding of the subsidiary.

"The Co-operative Bank of South Sudan is now a reality. We expect to open the first branch early next year," Muriuki said. The government will later sell the stake to Co-operatives societies in South Sudan, once they are established.

Kenya Commercial Bank and Equity Bank are already the South Sudan. Co-operative bank yesterday signed a $60 million loan (Sh 5.1 billion) loan agreement with International Finance Corporation.

The money will be used for lending to Small and Medium Enterprises in agribusiness and import/export trade sectors. "This will be targeting borrowers whose income is in dollars. It will thus be offering a hedge against foreign currency fluctuation losses," Muriuki added.

IFC also extended a $5 million(Sh425 million) trade line through global Trade Finance Program. this guarantees emerging markets banks with guarantees to cover risks associated with trade. Co-operative Bank recently received another 70 million Euros (Sh7.5 billion) from European Investment Bank.

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