Access Holdings Eyes Majority Stake In First Guarantee Pension

Barely hours after announcing the divestment of its 100% stake in Access Pension Custodian Limited, the board of Access Holdings Plc, on Thursday said it has entered into a definitive agreement with First Guarantee Pension Limited that will see it acquiring majority equity in the company.

The group had sold its shares in Access Custodian to First Pension Custodian Limited at a yet to be disclosed amount, while receiving approvals by way of “no objection” to the transaction from the National Pension Commission (Pencom) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)

In a notice on the Nigerian Exchange Limited portal, Access Holdings said the latest transaction is in line with its evolution from a narrow banking business into a financial services holding company positioned to gain relevant scale across Africa, global monetary centres, and beyond banking verticals.”

Commenting on the deal, Herbert Wigwe, Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings said it “is a natural evolution for us. Over the last 20 years, we set our sights on and delivered ambitious plans to transform the African financial services landscape focusing on banking.”

In the process, he said the group has created Africa’s leading bank and largest bank by customer base, both on the wholesale and retail segments, making the pension business a natural fit for the corporation, “given its objective of ecosystem optimization.”
Access Holdings, he continued, “will leverage our well-established culture of strong corporate governance, risk management, cutting-edge technology, and digital capabilities to deliver high standards of professionalism in the management of pension assets to the benefit of our stakeholders.”

Completion of the transaction, according to the notice by Sunday Ekwochi, Group Company Secretary of Access Holdings, “is subject to the receipt of all required regulatory approvals.”

Little is known about the ownership of First Guarantee Pension Limited. The PenCom had in 2011, announced an immediate takeover of the company citing the “incessant shareholders squabbles and several issues of adverse corporate governance in the Pension Fund Administrator. An Interim Management Committee was subsequently constituted to oversee the affairs until the shareholders convene an Emergency General Meeting, EGM,/Annual General Meeting, AGM, with a view to properly constituting a Board and effective management.

Wilson Ideva, CEO FGPL

However, checks on the company’s website on Thursday was silent on the ownership, as the company with an authorized share capital of N1.0bn and paid up share capital of N922m, only wrote: “our Nigerian shareholders comprise of distinguished individuals and corporate bodies from all fields of the economy.”

According to the 2020 audited full-year financials, the company’s net profit fell from N1.9bn to N1.178bn; while total assets dropped from N10.865bn to N7.264bn; and total liabilities from N1.751bn to N1.643bn. Further checks by Investdata News showed that at the end of 2016, the company had a total asset of N110.149bn, which rose from N92.658bn; and liabilities amounting to N3.004bn, up from N2.574bn.

According to Pencom’s annual report for 2020, First Guaranty Pensions had a market share of 2.93%, which ranked it number 13 among PFAs in the country, compared to Stanbic IBTC Pension Fund’s 20.16%; followed by ARM, TrustFund and Sigma Pensions with 8.97%, 8.21% and 7.93% share respectively.