Access Holdings expands into Angola, takes over Finibanco S.A. Bank

Access Holdings has completed its bid to gain a foothold in Africa’s second-biggest oil producer, Angola, about two and a half months after announcing it had scaled regulatory hurdles to acquire the country’s Finibanco S.A. Bank.

The move expands the territory of Nigeria’s biggest financial services group in the southern part of the continent, where it has already ventured into strategic markets including South Africa, Botswana and Zambia in addition to Mozambique. Angola is sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest economy after Nigeria and South Africa.

“Our plan is to leverage our expansive distribution network, best-in-class technology, risk and governance practices to serve high-growth businesses and the rising consumer sector in Angola,” CEO Herbert Wigwe said in the statement announcing the acquisition.

“We will act as a positive catalyst to foster greater innovation and promote the deepening of the financial sector in Angola in line with our strategic growth objectives in the broader South Africa Development Community.”

Access Holdings announced in May it had received approval for the deal from the Central Bank of Angola, setting it up for last-mile approval from Angolan Competition Authority.

That came after its commercial banking division, Access Bank, closed a deal with interested minority shareholders of Finibanco S.A. to buy their stakes.

A month earlier, Access Holdings invested $300 million in Access Bank, the same amount at which Finibanco S.A.’s total assets are valued.

The acquisition gives Access Bank an 80 per cent interest in the lender. The acquired bank runs over 20 branches in Angola.

A botched takeover of Kenya’s Sidian Bank this January denied Access Holdings an opportunity to increase its slice of the market in East Africa’s biggest economy where in 2020 it acquired Transnational Bank.

Access Holdings has completed a raft of banking acquisitions across Africa in the last two years, setting the stage for its quest to become Africa’s gateway to the world.

The group hopes to scale regional trade finance and cross-border banking services by way of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement and is positioning its UK subsidiary as the anchor for growth in the rest of the world.

Access Holdings expects its African subsidiaries to double their contribution to the revenue pool in the next five years.

Currently Nigeria’s biggest lender with assets approaching N16 trillion in value, the group committed N77.4 billion to acquire property and equipment last year, according to its earnings report.

But this and the group’s formidable feats in the mergers & acquisitions market have not translated to commensurate market value, with Access Holdings lagging behind four other lenders in market value.

Access Holdings’ issued shares were worth N556.3 billion at market open on Friday, substantially undervalued with a price-to-earnings ratio of 3.3x. That was just a little below the group’s highest valuation ever.

That compares with the current market value of peers like Zenith Bank (N1.1 trillion), GTCO (N1 trillion), Stanbic IBTC (N793 billion), and FBN Holdings (N626.4 billion).

Mr Wigwe holds about 1.8 billion shares (direct and indirect) in Access Corporation, according to the 2022 financial report.

In the two months to 27 June, Tengen Holdings (Mauritius) Limited, a company also jointly owned by him and Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Access Bank’s former CEO, acquired about 1.4 billion units of Access Corporation’s shares, according to PREMIUM TIMES calculation from stock exchange filings.

Altogether, shares from those two sources translate to about 3.2 billion units worth N50.1 billion as of the market opening on Friday. The combined stake is equal to 9 per cent of the group’s entire shares.


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