Chase suitors seek time to study books

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By BRIAN NGUGI
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The sale of Chase Bank to strategic investors, which was to be completed by the end of September, is facing delays after some bidders sought more time to study the lender’s books before submitting formal proposals.

Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) governor Patrick Njoroge Tuesday said the regulator has been forced to set aside an earlier tentative timetable to allow all parties time to put together their offers.

“They (the shortlisted bidders) asked for more time. The deadline for that was June 9. That’s the timing we gave them, but actually they asked for more time (and) we gave them until June 19,” said Dr Njoroge in Nairobi yesterday.

France’s third-largest bank by assets, Societe Generale, and Mauritius-based SBM Holdings are said to be among the frontrunners to acquire Chase and its subsidiary, Rafiki Microfinance.

Other bidders include KCB Group #ticker:KCB , I&M Bank #ticker:I&M , Stanbic Bank #ticker:CFC and South Africa’s First Rand.

“From then on we have been holding discussions with the bidders. That is something that will take time. As much time as is needed.”

Dr Njoroge denied claims by a section of Chase Bank shareholders that the regulator had kept them in the dark on the sale process.

“I cannot comment on any rumours or any of those things all I can say is we are in touch with the shareholders. They understand the timelines, they support all those things,” said the CBK governor.

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