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HomeBusinessAccess Bank targets to become Africa's 5th biggest bank by 2027

Access Bank targets to become Africa’s 5th biggest bank by 2027

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Access Bank Plc, which has grown into Nigeria’s biggest lender by assets, is setting its sights even higher and is changing its corporate structure to fuel an expansion after transiting from a commercial lending group to a holding company.

The bank transitioned to a financial holding company in Nigeria this month as it plans to offer more services beyond traditional banking, including payments, insurance and asset management, Chief Executive Officer Herbert Wigwe said at a meeting with journalists in Lagos.

The bank, which has operations in 16 countries, aims to become one of the continent’s biggest banks over the next five years.

“What the Holdco strategy allows us to do is to look at new markets and new opportunities that the traditional bank does not allow us to do,” Wigwe said.

“My sense is that by 2027, you will see us getting close to one of the top-5 banks in the continent,” from it’s current ranking of 12th.

The lender rose to become Nigeria’s biggest bank in assets from 65th position 20 years ago, following organic and inorganic growth in the country and series of acquisitions across Africa, Wigwe said.

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Now, the CEO is pointing to U.S. giant JPMorgan Chase & Co. as a model for offering a range of financial products across multiple divisions of a holding company.

The expansion doesn’t come without risks, as Wigwe said investor scepticism may explain why the bank only ranks fourth in Nigeria by market value.

The stock traded at around N10 per share in Lagos on Wednesday giving the lender a valuation of about N355 billion.

“Over time, it will show the right valuation that we expect,” Wigwe said. “We’ll continue to speak to our shareholders and paint for them the picture of tomorrow.”

Last year, the lender said it will open offices in Paris and Hong Kong in the first half of 2022 and last week said it’s looking to expand in six new countries, especially markets with stronger currencies, with an aim toward stabilizing earnings.

Nigeria’s currency has been under pressure, losing more than 50 per cent of its value since 2015 after the West African nation plunged and recovered from two economic contractions in the period.

“If you are a soft currency country you have to be running faster than others,” Wigwe said, adding that the bank will plough profits into its expansion.
~ With Bloomberg report

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