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Access Bank Buys 78.15% of Atlas Mara Subsidiary’s Stake in Bank

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Access Bank Logo

By Dipo Olowookere

It seems Access Bank Plc is not resting until it achieves its goal of being the main financial institution on the African continent.

The Nigerian lender, which aims to be Africa’s gateway to the world, has acquired a majority stake in another foreign bank, a few weeks after it announced its intention to buy a South African bank.

In a notice on Monday, the company said it has entered into a definite and binding agreement with a subsidiary of Atlas Mara Limited, ABC Holdings Limited, for the acquisition of a 78.15 per cent shareholding in African Banking Corporation of Botswana Limited (BancABC Botswana).

In the disclosure, Access Bank stated that the transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and customary conditions precedent and should be completed before the end of the second quarter of 2021.

Atlas Mara is a financial firm listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) with investments in some banks in Africa, including the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) listed Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, which also competes in the same space with Access Bank.

“We remain committed to a disciplined and thoughtful expansion strategy in Africa, which we believe will create strong, sustainable returns for our shareholders and stakeholders at large over the medium and long term,” the Group Managing Director of Access Bank, Mr Herbert Wigwe, stated.

“The establishment of Access Bank through this acquisition in the Republic of Botswana will position the bank to deliver a more complete set of banking solutions to its clients active in and across the SADC and COMESA regions,” he further said.

“This transaction complements our recent strategic growth acquisitions in South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique,” Mr Wigwe explained.

He emphasised that Access Bank is “building a bank of the future that Africans across Africa and the world will be proud of and look forward to welcoming the employees, customers and other stakeholders of BancABC Botswana to Access Bank.”

Botswana is renowned for its quality sovereign credit rating and stability and Access Bank’s market entry will enable it further solidify its strategy as a strong banking partner in key verticals across retail and corporate banking, including especially supporting trade and payments across Southern Africa and sub-Saharan Africa more broadly.

BancABC Botswana is the fifth-largest bank in Botswana and is a very well-capitalised banking institution poised for growth and success in its local market.

The bank has been perennially profitable, given an existing high-quality retail loan book with opportunities and scope for diversification and further expansion into corporate and SME lending.

Botswana’s achievements in digital banking adoption also provide an opportunity for Access Bank to optimise its best-in-class digital platforms and product suites to the benefit of BancABC Botswana’s customers.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Banking

CBN Gives DPO Group Payment Services Licence

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DOPO Group One Payment Limited

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has granted a license to One Payment Limited, a subsidiary of the leading Pan-African digital payments group, DPO Group, to provide certain types of payments services to businesses across Nigeria.

This payment services licence enables the DPO Group to operate as an independent payment solutions services company in Nigeria as it does across over 20 other countries in Africa.

DPO offers merchant aggregation services to over 60,000 active merchants, including e-commerce companies, airlines and travel agents through its robust and reliable network which allows merchants to accept payments in the currency of their choice.

Working across local and international channels, DPO also offers strong protection against fraud and helps merchants manage refunds, chargebacks and more.

The company will be banking on e-commerce which has seen significant growth in Nigeria in recent years, due to high levels of internet penetration combined with being one of the largest digital economies on the continent.

Digital payments make up the large majority of payment volumes in the country, and volumes are expected to reach 7.7 billion by 2025, representing a growth of 45 per cent from 2019.

Speaking on this, Mr Eran Feinstein, CEO of DPO Group, stated that, “Nigeria represents a key market for any business with a digital focus, as one of the most innovative African countries when it comes to fintech and e-commerce.

“This new licence is an exciting development which will allow us to offer an even smoother payment process for Nigerian businesses looking to grow and reach more customers through secure digital payments.”

DPO’s country manager in Nigeria, Mrs Chidinma Aroyewun said, “This licence provides an exciting opportunity for us at DPO. It allows us to work with tens of thousands of Nigerian businesses and help them achieve their growth goals through secure payment technology.”

DPO Group was acquired by Network International in 2021 in a landmark deal for the African payments space. It continues to operate under the same brand in existing territories and will be launching a new comprehensive payment solution, DPO Pay for businesses across Africa and other territories.

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Banking

BVN: Reps to Investigate Unclaimed Trillions of Naira in Banks

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Nigerian Banks

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The House of Representatives has taken a step to investigate the alleged trillions of Naira trapped in commercial banks because owners of the funds have failed to link their bank accounts with the Bank Verification Number (BVN).

In February 2014, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) introduced the BVN and gave bank customers till June 2015 to link their accounts with the BVN.

The scheme was introduced to check and combat money laundering, illicit financing and duplications in the ownership of bank accounts used for fraud.

But almost eight years after the policy was introduced by the apex bank, several bank account owners are to link their accounts with the BVN, meaning they have not been able to access funds in their accounts.

On Thursday, this issue was raised at the lower arm of the National Assembly in a motion moved by a lawmaker, Mr Dachung Bogos.

According to the green chamber of the parliament, about 45.85 million bank accounts are yet to be linked to BVNs as reports by the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement Systems (NIBSS) of June 23, 2021, stated that the total number of bank accounts in Nigeria as at May 2019 was 122.07 million, while active accounts as at May 2020 stood at 72.94 million.

It was claimed that suspicious monies running into trillions of Naira were left unclaimed in various banks across the country because their owners had failed to register for the BVN or link to existing ones where appropriate and that commercial banks have flagrantly continued to hold on to the unclaimed monies longer than necessary against the directives of the CBN.

The lawmakers argued that despite the introduction of BVN to curb the misappropriation of funds in the financial sector, about 71 million customers still use their accounts without the compulsory requirement from NIBSS.

When the market was debated during plenary, it was agreed that there is a need to constitute an ad-hoc to look into the suspicious and unclaimed funds in commercial banks as well as unremitted funds collected by commercial banks on behalf of agencies and departments of the federal government.

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Banking

Zenith Bank to Give Akwa Ibom N4.7bn Loan for Auto Plant

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Zenith Bank customer

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The government of Akwa Ibom State is planning to obtain a loan of N4.7 billion from Zenith Bank Plc for the establishment of Mimshac Automobile Assembly Plant.

The auto plant is to be located in Ikot Ukap, Itu Local Government Area of the state.

Governor Udom Emmanuel, a former director at Zenith Bank, approached the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly for approval of the credit facility.

Mr Emmanuel, in a message forwarded to the Speaker of the House, Mr Aniekan Bassey, and read by the Clerk, Mrs Mandu Umoren, at plenary on Tuesday, explained that the loan will aid the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Akwa Ibom State Government and Mimshac Digital Ltd Automobile Plant for the sum of $10 million (about N4.7 billion at the exchange rate of N470/$1.

Udom Emmanuel

According to the Governor, the said amount from Zenith Bank will help “finance the procurement of Semi Knocked Down and Complete Knocked Down (CKD) parts for the assembling of 85 stainless steel, 20-seater luxury buses.”

He further explained that the money will also facilitate the training of 20 persons recommended by the state government on the assemblage and manufacturing of vehicles in Israel.

In a statement posted on its Facebook page on Thursday, the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly said the loan request was supported by lawmakers, who said it would boost the economy of the state and create more jobs for the teeming unemployed youths.

The lawmakers assured that the House will continue to support Governor Emmanuel in his quest to leave the state better than he met it.

The Speaker, while speaking after the loan request approval, directed the Clerk to communicate the resolution of the parliament to Mr Emmanuel.

Akwa Ibom Speaker

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