This Day (Lagos)

2 June 2014

Nigeria: Access Bank Mulls London Stock Exchange Listing

Access Bank Plc is currently working on modalities to list its shares on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in the next 12 months as it seeks to raise fresh capital.

Shareholders of Access Bank had two months ago approved plans by the bank to raise $1 billion to enhance its operations.

The bank had explained that the fund would be raised in tranches and at a time to be determined by its directors, through the issuance of a Medium Term Note Programme. The fresh capital, according to Access Bank, would support its objective of being ranked as one of the top three banks in the industry.

In addition, following its designation as one of the Significantly Important Financial Institutions by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Access Bank is expected to have an additional one per cent buffer of tier-1 capital.

Access Bank's market capitalisation on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) stood at N231, 117,489,699.94 as at Friday.

The bank has 348 branches across Nigeria and in some other African countries. British-based newspaper, Sunday Express, also quoted a source to have said: "The bank hired a new chief executive last year and he is very qualified to lead Access through an Initial Public Offering (IPO) process in the United Kingdom."

In 2013, the bank appointed Herbert Wigwe, a former PWC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) accountant and seasoned banker, as its chief executive officer.

Speaking at the bank's 2013 annual general meeting held in Lagos recently, Wigwe had assured shareholders that the capital raising would not destroy the value of their investment. He however declined to comment on when the capital would be raised.

Wigwe had explained: "The most important thing is that should we need more money in the future, in a timely manner, it would be easier to access the market.

"The business of banking is fundamentally about managing risk and managing risk requires some form of capital. So we are raising this money so that we can basically leverage on it to lend customers."

The bank's chairman, Mr. Gbenga Oyebode, had also said the board of directors had considered a variety of available capital raising options and came to the conclusion that having the option of raising additional financing of up to $1 billion or its equivalent in local currency would be the most cost-efficient option to meet its capital adequacy objectives.

Furthermore, Oyebode had pointed out that the injection of fresh capital into the bank's operations would accelerate the attainment of its aspiration of becoming the "World's Most Respected African Bank".

"Enhancement of the bank's capital base is a key imperative for the realisation of its developmental goals and commitment to society," he had said.

The bank's UK operations, headed by former RBS Executive, Jamie Simmonds, focuses on asset and wealth management and trade finance.

The bank's recently released unaudited results for the first quarter ended 31 March 2014 showed that its gross earnings for the period climbed by nine per cent to N57 billion, up from the corresponding period in 2013. Similarly, its operating income increased by 19 per cent to N42 billion.

This was supported by a 12 per cent increase in its non-interest income during the period. The bank's profit before tax also climbed by 20 per cent to N13.4 billion from N11.1 billion, in the first quarter of 2013.

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