Access Bank Takes Top Spot As Nigeria’s Biggest Bank By Asset

An appreciation of N1.537 trillion or 21.6 per cent within one year has ramped up the asset value of Access Bank Plc to N8.680 trillion, making it Nigeria’s biggest lender in that rating category.

Jim Ovia-led Zenith Bank hogged the prime spot for 37 days since February 23, when the release of its audited financial statement for 2020 put its asset estimate at N8.481 trillion. But the publication on Thursday of Access Bank’s earnings report means it will now take the back seat behind the latter.

Valuation has been helped by two crucial deals outside Nigeria last year that involved the acquisition of Cavmont Bank in Zambia and Transnational Bank in Kenya.

Revenue jumped to N764.717 billion from N666.754 billion, reflecting a 14.7 per cent growth.

A drop in net interest income from N277.229 billion to N262.950 billion curbed earnings the same way the lender’s provision for bad debt did.

Access Bank put in place N62.893 billion of its turnover to make up for defaults in credit facilities more than three times what it reserved for that purpose in 2019 in a year the coronavirus outbreak significantly weakened borrowers’ capacity for repaying loans.

Pre-tax profit came to N125.922 billion from N111.926 billion, while profit for the year rose 12.7 per cent to N106.010 billion from N94.057 billion.

On Tuesday, Herbert Wigwe, the chief executive officer, said the bank committed about $60 million as settlement for a stake in South Africa-based Grobank, hoping to step up effort towards procuring a wholesale banking franchise in a market where it already has a “full retail banking” footprint.

It will pay stockholders a final dividend of N0.55 per share, bringing its total for 2020 to N0.80s. That compares with the N0.75 per share the lender paid them in all for 2019.

Access Bank shares closed in Lagos on Thursday at N8.10 per unit, gaining 2.5 per cent.

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