The Central Bank has allowed French banking giant Société Générale to open a representative office in Kenya.
Representative offices of foreign banks serve as marketing and liaison offices for their foreign parent banks and affiliates but are not allowed to conduct banking business.
Société Générale now becomes the 8th foreign bank to have a presence in Kenya joining the likes of Bank of China, Bank of Kigali, FirstRand Bank of South Africa, HDFC Bank of India, Mauritius Commercial Bank Limited, Nedbank Limited of South Africa, and Cooperatieve Rabobank U.A. of Netherlands.
With revenues of more than Sh3.1 trillion ( 25.64 billion EUR) as at December 2015, the bank has 146,000 employees and close to Sh160 trillion in assets ranking it the third-largest bank in the country.
Here in Kenya, Société Générale is reportedly among the frontrunners angling to acquire troubled Kenyan lender Chase Bank and its subsidiary Rafiki Microfinance.
The Central Bank said Kenya would be Société Générale’s first entry into the Eastern Africa market. “The representative office will support the growing trade and investment links between Kenya and France,” the CBK said. “It will also allow deepening of SG’s regional footprint with Kenya as its anchor in Eastern Africa.”
Société Générale is one of the leading financial services group in Europe and is headquartered in Paris, France. Its core businesses are managed through three segments: French Retail Banking, International Retail Banking and Financial Services, and Global Banking and Investor Solutions. Globally, SG has a footprint in 66 countries in Europe, North and South America, Middle East, Africa and Asia. In Africa, it has presence in 18 countries in North, West, Central and South Africa.
Representative offices in Kenya are established by foreign banks that wish to have a presence in the country without having to launch full-fledged banking operations.
“They are authorised and overseen by the Central Bank under the Banking Act and only permitted to undertake research, marketing and liaison roles on behalf of their parent and affiliated institutions,” CBK explains. “They are, therefore, not allowed to conduct banking business.”