Access Bank ups its ante to conquer East Africa
Access Bank logo

By Okey Onyeweaku

For those who have studied its operations over time, it is noticeable that Access Bank is in the habit of almost forever fine tuning its processes to create greater and better value for its owners. The ambitious bank which just transited to a holding Company not too long ago, has aside from targeting the number five position in Africa, also now revealed that its focus is set on being acknowledged as a reputable global financial institution.

Speaking at a forum recently, GMD of the Access Bank Holding Company, Mr. Herbert Wigwe said the financial institution was working round the clock to ensure that it would soon be in position to compete with the worlds best banks.

Wigwe who said no bank that was like Access Bank in 2002 is alive today, also remarked that the bank had never failed to meet its aspirations in terms of its growth projections in its 20-year history.

“We have always achieved our aspirations. We are not set now at creating a Pan African bank but a global institution. We are still on our expansion mood. We are paranoid about the future,” Wigwe said.

He affirmed that the banks next big bet; namely its projection for 2027 would be pursued aggressively and be met.

Wigwe said the projection would see the bank regionalising its presence on the continent with regional offices in Ghana, Kenya, Botswana, South Africa and Nigeria.

He said that the company, after 20 years, was moving to another level, and was even now intent on creating a much more diversified institution.

Wigwe said that Access Bank was moving to a Holding Company, with the bank as one of its subsidiaries in line with the changing times in which it aims to be Africas inspiration to the world.

Banking is changing at a faster pace than we can imagine, Wigwe, who is transiting to Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings Plc said.

According to him, technology is also most critical in changing all things. He said that anyone that failed to change with the trends would suddenly wake up one day to find out he had no business anymore.

Wigwe said the bank was creating strong digital technology footprints in line with its growth objectives which would also help it better ensure efficient service delivery.

He said that the bank would continue to support the government in making the economy better, just as it had played a major role in the formation of CACOVID to intervene with large doses of Corporate Sector help for the nation at the height of the pandemic.

Access Holdings Plc had last Monday announced board changes at its banking subsidiary, Access Bank Plc.

This was contained in a statement signed by Mr Sunday Ekwochi, the Group Company Secretary.

The statement said the board appointed Mr Roosevelt Ogbonna as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the bank.
It said that the appointment underscores the effectiveness of the Groups robust succession planning arrangement and follows the appointment of the incumbent, Wigwe, as the Group Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Access Holdings Plc.

It also announced the appointment of Mr Victor Etuokwu as Deputy Managing Director, Retail North and Mrs Chizoma Okoli as Deputy Managing Director, Retail South.
It noted that the three appointments had been approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria, effective May 2, 2022

It equally announced the resignation of Mr Adeolu Bajomo as Executive Director, Information Technology and Operations, with effect from Sept. 30, 2022, following his decision to pursue other personal interests.

Commenting on these developments, Mr Bababode Osunkoya, the Chairman of the Board said: “the new appointments reflect the robustness of our leadership succession plan and our decision to considerably strengthen our retail business while harnessing the potentials of SMEs and financial inclusion towards the attainment of groups strategy.

“The appointees have been selected based on their exceptionally rich, professional, academic, and corporate board experiences, which are all relevant to the needs of our board.

“We are deeply convinced that their skills will no doubt continue to add significant value to our banks quest to become Africas Gateway to the World.”

ACCESS BANKS PERFORMANCE

Unarguably Nigerias biggest bank by assets, Access Bank Plc has maintained its growth trajectory for the fourth consecutive year, recording 51.13% growth in profit to N160 billion for the full year 2021, ended December 31.

By this feat, the tier 1 lender has grown its profits by 167% in 4 years since hitting N60 billion in 2017.

The bank recorded gross earnings of N971.9 billion for the financial year ended December 31, 2021, representing an increase of 27 per cent over N764.7 billion posted in the financial year 2020.

According to its financial results released to the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) on Friday, the lenders Profit Before Tax (PBT) for the period rose by 40 per cent Year on Year to N176.7billion from N125.9 billion in 2020, while Profit After Tax (PAT) grew by 51 per cent y/y to N160.2billion from N106.0 billion in 2020.
The assets base of the group equally remained strong and resilient with total assets of N11.7 trillion as at December 2021, representing a growth of 35 per cent y/y from N8.7 trillion in 2020 and more than twice the banks total assets in 2018.

Other performance indicators show that customer deposits stood at N7.0 trillion as at December 2021, a whopping 24.47% leap from N5.6trillion in 2020. Net Loans and Advances stood at N4.4 trillion as at December 2021 from N3.6 trillion in 2020. Non-Performing loans (NPL) ratio stood at 4.0 per cent as at December 2021 as against 4.3 per cent in 2020.

The bank, however, recorded a 64.66% depletion of net gain on financial instruments to N42.46 billion, on the back of a N136 billion loss on non-hedging derivatives.

But its e-banking income raked in N66.28 billion, representing a 18% spike from N56.09 billion in 2020 and suggesting an improvement in the banks utilization of the e-channels in the delivery of financial services to its customers.
The bank last traded at N10.40 per share, with a market capitalization of N369.67 billion and Year-to-date performance showing 11.83% share price appreciation as of Thursday, March 17, 2022.

In line with its policy of regularly extending the fortune to the shareholders, the board of directors has proposed a final dividend of N0.70 per share, to be paid on each of the 35,545,225,622 issued ordinary shares, bringing the total dividend for the financial year to N1.00 kobo, having paid an interim dividend of N0.30 kobo in September 2021.

“Our diversified business model yielded positive sustainable results, guided by a robust risk management framework, as we grew the business cautiously and recorded sound prudential ratios. This years results reinforce our resolve to generate sustainable returns despite challenging market conditions,” said Herbert Wigwe, Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank Plc.

“We sustained robust capital and liquidity positions, well above regulatory levels with a Basel II Capital Adequacy Ratio of 24.5 per cent and a Liquidity Ratio of 51.0 per cent . This positions the Bank to support our customers across various markets and adequately execute our expansion strategy.

“To actualize our vision of becoming the worlds most respected African Bank and Africas Payment Gateway, we have taken strategic strides to create indelible footprints across the African continent.

“These include our most recent additions in South Africa, Botswana, and Guinea. We also strengthened our business in Mozambique and Zambia, with noticeable improvement in rankings and market share.”

Strategic growth

With its successful merger with Diamond Bank in 2019, Access Bank made a bold statement of intent to dominate the Nigerian banking space. It was a transaction that instantly shot it up as the biggest bank in the country, with assets base of N7.28 trillion, and customer base of 31 million.

However, an appreciation of N1.537 trillion or 21.6 per cent within one year ramped up the assets value of the lender to N8.680 trillion.

A story of small beginnings.

Indeed Access Bank has come a long way. For perspective, todays Access Bank was a small commercial bank, ranked 65th in size out of 89 banks in the country when Wigwe and his business partner, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, acquired it in 2002. It was scaled up through a series of strategic mergers and acquisitions to build capacity and market strength over the years.

Wigwe took over from Aig-Imoukhuede as the banks MD/CEO in 2014 and has been driving its expansion, both in terms of footprint and product diversification.

The group is relying on its digital capability and innovative payments solutions to take the business to the next level as part of its expansion strategy.

By 2023, Access Bank will have consolidated its position as Africas gateway to the world with about 100 million customers in Nigeria and additional 20m customers across our African subsidiaries, Wigwe said last year.
Eyes on the ball, we will also be watching in the months and years that follow.

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