Business Hilights
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(Special Report): Facts, figures on Access Bank’s entrance to Cameroon

Background:

Whereas last week, Access Bank Plc said in a statement filed at the NSE that it has received the approval of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for its proposed expansion into the Republic of Cameroon, further investigations by Business Hilights Intelligence Unit (BHIU) has revealed more facts, terms and conditions for the emerging operations starting from Douala, the nation’s business capital.

According to the statement, the proposed expansion, which is subject to regulatory authorities in the Republic of Cameroon, is in pursuance of the bank’s strategic objective to become Africa’s gateway to the world.

Access Green Bond
L-r:Group Deputy Managing Director, Executive Director, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Roosevelt Ogbonna; Chief Executive Officer, The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Mr. Oscar N. Onyema OON and Group Managing Director/CEO, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe during the presentation of a replica of the closing gong to Access Bank Group at the Closing Gong Ceremony in commemoration of the successful merger of Access Bank Plc and Diamond Bank Plc and Listing of the N15b Corporate Green Bond.

Facts and figures on Access Bank Cameroon market entry:

BHIU gathered that Access Bank is entering Cameroon with an initial capital of about XAF14.5bn ($24.565m) and the new subsidiary’s headquarters will be in Douala, Cameroon’s economic capital.  XAF – Central African CFA Franc BEAC. The Central African CFA Franc BEAC is the currency of Communauté Financière Africaine (BEAC).

The administrative board of the Cameroonian subsidiary is constituted of seven members with only one Cameroonian, the legal notice published for the creation indicates.

These members are Patience Melone, Iyabode Soji-Okusanya, Fatai Oladipo, Abraham Aziegbe, Ibukunoluwa Odegbaike, and Elliz Nzo Azu.

Access Bank had secured a duration of 99 years to do business in the country with option of renewal and the bank has chosen Price Water House Coopers (PwC) as its external auditor.

PwC will among others, operate in the management of current accounts, savings collection, checks payment and credit granting.

However, BHIU gathered that as required by the rules in force, the launch of Access Bank Cameroon’s activities in Cameroon is still subject to the issuance, by the Ministry of Finance and the banking commission (COBAC), of various legal notices and authorizations to the bank’s shareholders.

It was further gathered that if it succeeds in launching its subsidiary in Cameroon, Access Bank Plc will become the 16th commercial bank to operate in the country and will meet one of its compatriots, United Bank of Africa (UBA), on that market to fight for market share mainly amongst Nigerian businesses.

Access B H Wigwe
GMD of Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe. Set to become the chief executive of Africa’s largest bank

It was further discovered that Access Bank is entering the Cameroonian market some years after the departure of another Nigerian group, Oceanic Bank International.

Business Hilights recalls that some years ago, Oceanic Bank International took over 54.5% of Union Bank of Cameroon’s (UBC) assets saving it from bankruptcy. However, in 2011, Ecobank had to buy Oceanic Bank International’s assets in UBC, which is a well-rooted bank in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon.

Additional fact check revealed that on January 15, 2019, Access Bank Plc’s Executive Director, Victor Etokwu, had announced that apart from the Cameroonian subsidiary, the banking group would create subsidiaries in two other African countries this year. The banking group will then have 18 subsidiaries in Africa.

Etokwu had said the bank planned to expand into three Africa countries this month, noting that “We are currently in 15 countries and before the middle of this month, we will be in three more countries in Africa.

“Before June end hopefully, we will have a franchise in Hong Kong. We are Africa’s biggest bank and the most profitable bank in the United Kingdom.

“We are the only African bank in the clearing house in the UK. It is a big franchise; there is room for everybody and we have shared this with all the members of staff.”

Access Bank had also in October received the approval of the Competition Authority of Kenya and Central Bank of Kenya to acquire 93.57 per cent of a Kenyan-based lender, Transnational Bank Limited.