So do we have such banks in Kenya? The answer is yes:
- KCB: At close of play in September 2009, KCB had a balance sheet of Ksh189bn, which si roughly speaking 27% of Kenya's total budget. It also has around 200 branches, 150 of those in Kenya. Thus its a large employer as well. Its collapse won't be pretty. Remedy: At 13%, its tier 1 capital ratio looks strong for versus some Western banks, but its target should be 20% or more given its host economy.
- Equity: Holds just under 50% of Kenya's banking account population irrespective of the size of their accounts. And has 155 branches (130 of them in Kenya). Its collapse would lead to a severe dislocation SMEs and agriculture for which it serves a significant portion. I see its risk coming from liquidity rather than capital concerns. Remedy: Should be required to hold at least 12% of its assets in form of t-bills and or AAA-rated gilts.
- BBK: At Ksh170bn (June 2009), its also a behemoth in the local economy. Included here because of its corporate client content which would again cripple our economy were it or the parent to collapse. Remedy: As with KCB, probably more suspect to lower capital thresholds and should thus be required to hold at least 15% tier 1 capital ratio at all times.
- Co-op: The banker of co-operative societies and Saccos country-wide. And like Equity, therefore, carries systemic risk for the economy. Has a history of appalling size of bad loans coupled with political inteference. Remedy: Higher liquidity and capital requirements. The broker licence was probably a mistake.