Home NewsNational Equity Bank Reassures Cogebanque Clients, Staff On Smooth Transition Following Merger

Equity Bank Reassures Cogebanque Clients, Staff On Smooth Transition Following Merger

by Edmund Kagire
11:26 pm

Hannington Namara, MD, Equity Bank Rwanda, says Cogebanque clients won’t meet any challenges in services during the transition people.

Equity Bank Rwanda has assured clients of former Cogebanque Plc that they will access even better services following the completion of the merger of the two banks, after the former acquired the latter to create Rwanda’s second largest bank.

The bank also says that former staff of Cogebanque have been smoothly onboarded to Equity Bank Rwanda but at least 70 people lost their jobs or were rendered redundant in the process of the merger.

Equity Group Holdings PLC (EGH) on Wednesday announced the merger of Cogebanque and Equity Bank Rwanda, which officially started effective 31 December 2023, with all former Cogebanque branches in the country rebranding to Equity Bank Rwanda, following the acquisition of the financial institution which has been operation since 1999.

The amalgamation, which followed the receipt of all corporate and regulatory approvals marked a significant milestone in the ongoing strategic growth initiatives of EGH. In accordance with Rwandan law, the business and activities previously conducted by Cogebanque and Equity Bank Rwanda will now be undertaken by Equity Bank Rwanda which acquired all property, rights, privileges, and liabilities of Cogebanque.

This means that Cogebanque will be deregistered in accordance with the law governing companies in Rwanda and, hence, will no longer be a subsidiary of EGH. Post-merger, EGH holds 99.816% shareholding in Equity Bank Rwanda, with the remaining shareholding distributed among three other shareholders.

The merger propelled Equity Bank Rwanda to the second largest bank in the country.

Over the coming weeks, Cogebanque branded branches and other outlets will undergo a brand identity transition to that of Equity Bank Rwanda, symbolizing a seamless integration of services and a unified commitment to providing enhanced financial solutions to the people of Rwanda.

Speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday, Hannington Namara, Managing Director Equity Bank, gave reassurances to the clients of Cogebanque that the merger will lead to improved service delivery, with the many branches the bank now has across the country as well as more banking products to enjoy.

“The merger between Equity Bank Rwanda and Cogebanque Plc created the second largest bank in this market. From inception, when Equity Bank started here in Rwanda, about 12 years ago, the intention was to be a meaningful operator in this country,”

“As you recall, we started from zero or the greenfield, registering branch one and customer one. We had 19 branches before we merged and the network was continuing to expand,” Namara said, adding that today Equity Bank Rwanda has achieved the target of being a meaningful operator.

He said Equity’s vision was to be among the top three operators when they entered the Rwandan market but the merger with Cogebanque has propelled them to the position of the second largest bank in the country.

MD Namara gave Cogebanque clients assurances that they won’t face any challenges and the merger comes with more benefits.

“The creation of the major of the second largest bank, obviously widens the horizon for financial products for customers. Initially, when you wanted to do a project that required 50 million dollars, you would need to put together at least six banks -a syndicate, to give you that facility,” Namara said, adding that clients can now borrow up to Rwf25bn through the bank without going elsewhere.

“It also means that the merger has created a large network of branches, putting together the 19 branches we had plus 28 of Cogebanque, those are at least 46 branches,” he said, adding that more people will access the bank through the many branches it now has around the country.

He also pointed out that the merger has created a bigger network of agency banking, where Equity had over 4,000 agents across the country, while Cogebanque had over 2,000, which creates an agency banking base of over 6,000 agency outlets.

Namara said Cogebanque had about 36 ATMs while Equity Bank Rwanda had about 20, bringing the total ATM network to 56, adding that the bank is also working to ensure that banking services are digitized to eliminate people frequenting branches.

Retrenchment 

Regarding laying off of at least 70 former members of staff, Namara said that staff of both entities were asked to reapply for their positions, which meant that at least 70 people from both sides were laid off or their positions rendered redundant due to the fact that there was duplication of roles following the merger.

Clients were given a chance to participate in the process.

He pointed out that some individuals chose not to reapply or did not want to apply for other positions other than the ones they had, but added that the process, which he said was transparent, affected staff from both sides, not just Cogebanque, because positions were given out based on merit.

Namara explained that the staffing process was fair, transparent and accommodative, to ensure that a bigger percentage of the combined workforce of nearly 500 retained their jobs or were placed elsewhere.

EGH’s Managing Director and CEO, Dr. James Mwangi, said the merger is a testimony to the regional bank’s effort to serve people better to transform their lives.

“We are pleased to announce the successful merger of Cogebanque with Equity Bank Rwanda, a culmination of meticulous planning, regulatory diligence, and the collective efforts of our teams at Cogebanque and Equity Bank Rwanda. This merger, combining the strengths of the two entities, positions us to deliver even better access to competitive and tailored financial services, aiming to improve the lives and livelihoods of the people of Rwanda,” Mwangi said.

“We shall deploy the resources of the combined entities and of the Group to support regional economic development, transcending borders and fostering collaboration across nations. With a strategic presence in six countries, namely Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, and South Sudan, Equity is well-positioned to be a driving force for cross-border trade support.”

Mwangi pointed out that through the combined strengths of Equity Bank Rwanda and Cogebanque, Equity Group aims to expand opportunities for wealth creation while delivering significant value to stakeholders.

“The merged entity will continue to uphold the highest standards of service excellence, innovation, and financial inclusion. We extend our gratitude to the regulatory authorities, shareholders, management, staff and all stakeholders who have supported us throughout this process. We are confident that Equity Bank Rwanda will play a pivotal role in driving economic growth and prosperity in Rwanda,” he added.

The merger completed a process that began in June 2023 with the acquisition of Cogebanque by Equity Group Holdings Plc.

Equity Bank Rwanda Plc is a subsidiary of Equity Group Holdings Plc and is licensed by the National Bank of Rwanda to provide banking services in Rwanda.

Equity Bank Rwanda was ranked third amongst Rwandan banks in terms of reported total assets as at 30th September 2023 and served over 1,351,486 customers through a network of 19 branches, 3,880 agents, 23 ATMs and 1,775 merchants. Post=Merger with Cogebanque, Equity Bank Rwanda is now serving over 1,491,273 customers through a network of 46 branches, 4,516 agents, 59 ATMs and 1,777 merchants.

As of 30th September 2023, Equity Bank Rwanda Plc reported total assets of RWF 682.9 billion, and profit after tax of RWF 23.2 billion. Within the same reporting period Cogebanque reported total assets of RWF 305,460,532, and profit after tax of RWF 5,630,504.

The merged entity will have a more extensive national presence, growing its reach to 46 branches, 59 ATMs, 4,516 Agents and 1777 Merchants. This network will enhance accessibility for our members and communities, ensuring a broader network that caters to diverse geographic locations.

The parent company, Equity Group Holdings Plc, is a non-operating holding company with banking subsidiaries in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo, a Commercial Representative Office in Ethiopia and non-banking subsidiaries in Kenya that are engaged in providing investment banking and stock-broking, insurance, custodial services, payment services and telecommunication services.

 

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