DRC – Equity Group, a financial services holding company, has got the green light to acquire KSh10.9 billion (US$105 million) controlling stake in Banque Commerciale du Congo (BCDC), one of the top banks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in a deal that will deepen its influence in the populous Central African country.

According to Business Daily, the stake is currently held by George Arthur Forrest family, one of the wealthiest families in DRC and Equity had approached it last year.

The clearance paves the way for Equity to finalise the transaction that will see it get 66.53 percent stake in the bank that has 29 branches.

Comesa Competition Commission endorsed the decision by the Committee Responsible for Initial Determination (CID) that said the deal will increase market share of Equity without hurting competition.

“The CID determined that the merger is not likely to substantially lessen or prevent competition in the Common Market or any substantial part of it. The CID further determined that the transaction is unlikely to negatively affect trade between member states,” said the commission.

The Forrest family is known for the Groupe Forrest International, a firm founded in 1922 with interests in construction, electricity, industry, mining, agribusiness, health and welfare.

Equity had disclosed last year it will pay it US$105 million in cash for the 625,354 shares in BCDC in a deal inclusive of dividends that the bank will declare after January 1.

The firm already has a subsidiary in DR Congo, which it acquired in May 2015, and will seek to integrate the two banks in a merger that will create the second largest

BCDC was founded in 1909 by Banque du Congo Belge. It is the second largest bank in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as measured by balance sheet and shareholders’ equity.

Equity Bank Group announced on 9 September 2019 that it had acquired the controlling stake in the bank.