In Mauritania SBM eyes Kenya, Seychelles in growth push

SBM, the operator of the Indian Ocean nation's second largest bank by market share, said it was in talks with a "viable" commercial bank in Kenya to acquire it, and was awaiting a commercial banking license in the Seychelles.

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Mauritian bank group SBM Holdings plans to grow its international business by 30 percent annually over the next five years by buying a bank in Kenya and starting a new one in Seychelles, its chairman said.

SBM, the operator of the Indian Ocean nation's second largest bank by market share, said it was in talks with a "viable" commercial bank in Kenya to acquire it, and was awaiting a commercial banking license in the Seychelles.

"The share of international business is very negligible but we see big potential," Kee Chong Li Kwong Wing, SBM Holdings' chairman told Reuters on the phone.

"The aim is to grow our international business by at least 30 percent over the next 5 years."

Wing said the bank expects the Seychelles central bank to decide next month on its application for a commercial bank license, and declined to identify the Kenyan lender SBM is in discussions with.

"We are in talks to acquire a viable Kenyan commercial bank. This will help us extend our footprint in East Africa," he said.

With assets of 130.37 billion rupees ($3.68 billion) as of last September, SBM has outlets in Mauritius, Madagascar and India. It also opened a representative office in Myanmar.

"In the long run, SBM has placed an option on Myanmar following the removal of international sanctions," Wing said, adding SBM will open more outlets in India and appoint a chief executive for the business in India.

This follows approval from the Reserve Bank Of India to turn the business into a wholly-owned subsidiary.

The lender, which offers services from retail banking to wealth management, wants to take advantage of the island nation's evolution into a full-fledged offshore financial center, Wing said.

"Our aim is to double the size of our assets and profits in the next few years," he said.

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