Russo, a human resources (HR) professional who is currently the managing director of the lender’s subsidiary National Bank of Kenya, takes over from Joshua Oigara. Russo was seconded to the subsidiary after its acquisition by KCB in 2019 and has worked within the KCB Group since 2014.
Before that he worked in senior HR roles at Barclays, PwC, K-Rep Bank Limited and EABL subsidiary Kenya Breweries Ltd.
“During his tenure at NBK, he has executed a significant turnaround, moving the previously loss-making business into profitability and on a trajectory for stronger growth into the future,” KCB Group Chairman Andrew Wambari Kairu said in a statement on Tuesday.
The outgoing CEO has had a fantastic run…and has led the Group through its fastest growth in a decade
In March, the board extended Oigara’s term at the helm of the regional lender by a year to allow for what the bank called a “competitively run selection process”.
Oigara was appointed as the bank’s CEO in 2013, taking over from Martin Oduor-Otieno. Oigara had been headhunted from Bamburi Cement a few years before, in preparation for the succession process.
In his nine years at the bank, KCB has been on an aggressive expansion drive and has grown significantly. The bank said the outgoing CEO has had a “fantastic run…and has led the Group through its fastest growth in a decade”.
Under Oigara’s leadership, KCB tripled its total asset base from Ksh367.4bn ($3.1bn) in September 2012 to Ksh1.139trn ($9.7bn) in 2021, making it the second largest bank in Kenya after Equity Bank.
In April, KCB merged its Rwandan subsidiary with its new acquisition, Banque Popular du Rwanda (BPR), to form BPR Bank Rwanda PLC, now the second-largest lender in the country.
In addition to Kenya and Rwanda, the bank is also present in Tanzania, South Sudan, Uganda and Burundi. It has also been making exploratory moves in Ethiopia in readiness for the liberalisation of the country’s banking sector and is said to be in advanced stages of an acquisition in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The bank remains primarily dependent on its home market: its subsidiaries contributed $47.32m of the group’s total $300m net profits in 2021.
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