Access Bank Eyes Stronger Currency Nations, Foreign Units Pooling 35% Of Assets

Access Bank Plc, a Nigerian lender with operations in 16 countries, plans to strengthen operations in environments with stronger currencies to stabilize earnings in its Nigerian home market.

For that reason, the bank which recently released its 2021 audited financials, showing it is the biggest by gross earnings yet, wants to play deeper in the U.K., South Africa, Botswana, Kenya and Ghana, to lead growth among the subsidiaries owing to either the size of the economies or strength of their currencies, Bloomberg reports its Chief Executive Officer Herbert Wigwe as saying at an investor call in Lagos.

“As the U.K. expands, you may find more than 20% of our revenues coming from better currency, and some stronger currency countries that basically ensure our business is sustainable,” Wigwe said.

The biggest bank by assets in Africa’s largest economy plans to double the share of assets outside its home market by 2027 to between 30% and 35% from 15%, Seyi Kumapayi, executive director for African subsidiaries said at the same investor call.

The contribution of the foreign subsidiaries to pre-tax profit will probably remain at about 38%, Kumapayi said.

Foreign asset growth will be boosted by further expansion to six new markets namely France, Hong Kong, Malta, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon, according to an emailed presentation.

The bank’s total assets grew 35% to N11.7tr ($27.9 billion) in 2021 compared to the previous year while pre-tax profit rose 40% to 177 billion naira, it said. 

It forecasts loan growth “to be closer to 10%,” this year with most lending targeting Nigeria and foreign markets with stable currencies. Return on equity is forecast to grow by more than 20% from 17.8%.