KENYA – Equity Group Holdings’ board of directors have announced the signing of a non-binding agreement with shareholders of Banqué Commerciale du Congo (BCDC) to acquire the majority stake.

Banque? Commerciale du Congo (BCDC) is the second largest bank in Democratic Republic of Congo. Equity bank will acquire the stake through a cash transaction and merge it with its local subsidiary Equity Bank Congo.

The transaction will also be applicable to regulatory approvals from the Capital Markets Authority, the Central Bank of Kenya, the Central Bank of Congo and competition regulators.

In addition, the transaction sits alongside Equity’s long-term quest of becoming a Pan-African Bank in a push that has seen it enter four other markets in the region since its humble micro-finance beginnings in Kenya in the mid 80’s.

In a statement to the Capital Markets Authority (CMA), Equity Group Managing Director James Mwangi said; “By acquiring BCDC, Equity will be able to expand its footprint in Africa. Through the proposed transaction, EGH aims to provide access to competitive, tailored financial services to improve people’s lives and livelihoods whilst also delivering significant value to its stakeholders,”

The DRC government holds a 25.5 per cent shareholding in BCDC, while 66.5 per cent is held by Belgian business mogul, George Arthur Forrest and his family with other shareholders controlling 7.9 per cent.

According to BCDC’s annual report for the 2017 financial year, the lender holds Sh7.3 billion (US$73m) in capital and cash reserves. It reported Sh800 million (US$8000) net profit during the same reporting period. The bank has at least 26 branches spread across the DRC, with its loan book standing at Sh28 billion (US$280m) as at 2017.

Prior to Monday’s disclosure by the bank on the new DRC deal, the bank was set to close in on an expanded 14.5 million customer base composing of 291 branches, 699 Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and 46,844 agents outlets.

The Democratic Republic of Congo features as the most improved subsidiary for Equity, partly informing of the lender’s consolidation in the market which has an approximated population of 81.3 million.

The group currently has current outlets in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.