* KCB has made “non-binding” offer for Imperial
* CEO opposed to “Robin Hood” tax
* (Adds quotes, recasts lead)
By Omar Mohammed
NAIROBI, Aug 16 (Reuters) - KCB Group expects to finalise a takeover of smaller rival Imperial Bank by the end of September, Kenya’s biggest bank by assets said on Thursday after reporting higher first-half profits.
Imperial Bank Limited was placed in receivership in October 2015, after the board of the privately-owned bank alerted authorities to suspected malpractices.
Kenya’s central bank said last month KCB was in talks to buy Imperial Bank.
Chief Executive Joshua Oigara said KCB’s preliminary conversations with the central bank on the Imperial deal had concluded.
“We have what you call a non-binding offer,” he said. “The central bank has said they are okay for us to proceed and finalise it. We expect that to be finalised by the end of September.”
Terms of the Imperial Bank purchase have not yet been made public.
KCB reported a 16 percent rise in pretax profits to 17.1 billion Kenyan shillings ($169.8 million), with most of it coming from its home market.
The bank, which also operates in Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda and South Sudan, said net interest income rose 4 percent year-on-year to 24.1 billion shillings.
KCB said the rise in profits was attributable to higher deposits, an expansion of the loan book by 4 percent, and a surge in both interest and non-interest income.
The company will pay an interim dividend of 1.00 shilling per share in November, it said.
The results beat analysts’ expectations, Aly Khan Satchu, a Nairobi-based independent trader and analyst, said.
“The H1 earnings represented a strong defensive game,” he said.
“The offensive game was clearly a digital and regional one,” Satchu said, referring to the bank’s international business, where profits before tax grew by 25 percent overall. “The interim dividend will keep shareholders sweet.”
Oigara also said that the there was no basis for a “Robin Hood” tax on financial transactions that the government proposed in its budget presentation in June.
The tax, which came into effect on July 1, imposes a fee of 0.05 percent on transactions that are over 500,000 shillings ($5,000).
Banks and the financial community were opposed to the new tax, saying it would stifle the flow of funds across the system and curb investments.
Keny’s High Court temporarily suspended the tax after the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) challenged it. The court will hear the case on Sept. 17.
Oigara said the tax could have a negative impact on transactions for banks, pension funds, money markets, and investment managers.
“We believe it is ill-advised, it is not the right moment for it,” he said.
The bank’s balance sheet grew to 668 billion shillings from 630.6 billion, driven by higher deposits and gross customer loans in an environment of controlled interest rates, it said. Deposits jumped to 525 billion shillings from 483 billion. ($1 = 100.7000 Kenyan shillings) (Reporting by Omar Mohammed; Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by George Obulutsa and Jane Merriman)