FirstRand: M-Pesa spurs study of Kenyan options

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FirstRand was considering expansion in Kenya as demand for banking services increased, South Africa’s second-biggest lender said this week. “We have a representative office in Kenya and we are doing an analysis to see if we want to be there,” chief executive Sizwe Nxasana said in a presentation in Johannesburg on Tuesday. “Given how much [impact] M-Pesa has made, we’re evaluating the options.” M-Pesa is a cellphone money transfer service operated by a unit of Vodafone and Safaricom, which has more than 15 million users in Kenya. FirstRand is seeking to restart its expansion plans in Africa after three deals to buy assets in Zambia, Ghana and Nigeria failed in as many years. FirstRand shares have fallen 15 percent this year, making it the worst performer on the six-member FTSE/JSE Africa banks index, which has dropped 11 percent. The shares closed 0.46 percent lower at R30.41 in Johannesburg yesterday. – Bloomberg

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