6 August 2018

East Africa: Collapse of Bank M, Signals Shaky Banking Base in East Africa

Tanzania's Bank M has been placed under statutory management after the regulator Bank of Tanzania (BoT) issued warning over the bank's liquidity.

The placing of Bank M on statutory management comes a few months after BoT placed five more financial institutions under statutory management due to poor capitalization. These includes Covenant Bank, Efatha Bank, Njombe Community Bank, Kagea Farmers cooperative Bank and Meru Community Bank.

Bank M of Tanzania was licensed in February 2007, and is focused on corporate and investment banking.

Banks in Kenya have also faced similar fate. In 2016, data from the Central Bank of Kenya showed that Kenya's banking industry stagnated in the first three months of the year, signalling a slowdown following the collapse of three lenders. The collapse of Dubai Bank, Imperial and Chase Bank led depositors to seek safety in large institutions perceived to be more stable.

Chase Bank collapse in 2016 was a big shock as the bank was known to be on a healthy path based on its popularity with the Small and Micro Enterprises. KCB Bank was appointed the caretaker manager and only recently handed back the bank to new owners SBM, a Mauritius bank. In the deal, SBM Kenya will assume 75 percent of the value of deposits under moratorium at Chase Bank, all non-moratorium deposits at the bank, and will take-up over majority of branches and employees.

Oriental was the second bank which many felt that it had found a solid base with the acquisition by M Holdings, a Kenyan company which now controls 30 percent of the company. Oriental Commercial Bank is classified as a small lender by the CBK and was formerly Delphis Bank Ltd.

The case of Imperial Bank is more complicated as the Kenyan government has continued to push for a reliable purchaser while at the same time working to recover lost assets owed by the bank.

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