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[JOHANNESBURG] The closure of Kenya's Imperial Bank Ltd. last week won't deter Citigroup Inc from investing in the country, an executive of the US-based lender said.
"It's an isolated incident," Joyce-Ann Wainaina, head of Citigroup in East Africa, said during an interview in Dubai on Tuesday. "I don't think this is an industrywide issue." Kenya's central bank placed Imperial Bank under statutory management last week because of "unsafe or unsound business conditions." In August, Dubai Bank Kenya Ltd. was put under receivership after it breached daily cash-reserve-ratio requirements.
While the bank failures have roiled Kenya's stock market, the Washington-based International Monetary Fund is projecting economic growth of 6.5 percent this year and 6.8 percent next year. Global financial institutions including Old Mutual Plc and JPMorgan Chase & Co. want to build and expand operations in the East African country to profit from the growth in Kenya and the region.
Wainaina said that Kenya, along with the United Arab Emirates and Nigeria, are economies with "outsized opportunities for growth." "Kenya is very much the center or connected with the rest of East Africa, so if you're growing in Kenya, then that to us, by default, means that Uganda, Tanzania are naturally going to be countries of focus," she said. "East Africa is a key area for us and our growth."