Access Bank Paris to Strengthen Cross-Border Trade, Investment
By Adedapo Adesanya
Following the new launch of its subsidiary in Paris, France, Access Bank says it is committed to strengthening cross-border trade and investment between Africa and the world, connecting businesses to opportunities within the continent as Africa’s gateway to the world.
The launch of Access Bank’s Paris subsidiary marks a significant milestone in the bank’s global expansion strategy.
In a statement, the bank said this move would enable Access Bank to expand its operations in Europe, strengthen its international presence, and deepen its relationships with global clients while serving as a hub for supporting the bank’s growing trade finance business in Africa.
It will also enable Access Bank to provide seamless banking services to its clients doing business in France and Europe.
With a population of over 67 million people and a GDP of €2.4 trillion, France is a key player in the global economy. Access Bank’s new subsidiary will enable the bank to tap into the country’s vast business opportunities, particularly in the area of cross-border trade finance.
The subsidiary’s location in Paris is strategic, as it is the commercial and financial centre of France with a vibrant ecosystem of businesses and institutions. This positioning will allow Access Bank to leverage its local expertise and extensive network to provide tailored solutions to its clients.
In his remarks at the launch event, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings Plc, the parent company of Access Bank, Mr Herbert Wigwe, noted that “the establishment of Access Bank Paris is in line with the bank’s long-term strategy of becoming Africa’s gateway to the world. He also expressed confidence that the new subsidiary will play a key role in driving trade and investment flows between Africa and France”.
Mr Wigwe, while speaking on the purpose of the bank’s strategic expansion efforts, said, “Access Bank Plc, today, has a very strong presence in the United Kingdom, but coming on the heels of Brexit, there was a need for us to establish a presence in another country in Europe, and France provides a very strong platform for us to do so.
“Beyond that, Access Bank has a great presence in the Francophone world that relies significantly—in terms of trade—on France, so Access Bank in Paris will work to support trade possibilities and trade finance solutions to businesses in those regions, ranging from large conglomerates to SMEs and more.
“Our range of banking products and services will be a valuable asset for businesses looking to trade internationally, while our corporate and investment banking services will help businesses access capital, manage their cash flow, and mitigate risk. “Furthermore, we are confident that the Bank’s trade finance solutions will help businesses to navigate the complexities of cross-border trade, and at the same time, our digital capabilities will make banking more convenient and efficient for all our customers,” he reiterated.
He also acknowledged the role of the bank’s various stakeholders in making the expansion drive successful, Mr Wigwe stressed the value of its customers, shareholders, regulators, and the communities it operates.
“Our successes over the years would be footnotes but for the relationships we have fostered with these critical contributors. In recognition of this, we are committed to building long-term partnerships with all our stakeholders in France – based on trust, transparency, and mutual respect,” he added.
It must be noted that Access Holdings, the parent company of Access Bank Plc, has recently announced earnings of N1.38 trillion in the 2022 financial year, making the financial behemoth the first banking institution in Nigeria to hit and cross the N1 trillion mark in gross earnings.
This demonstrates the bank’s robust risk management, strong credit rating, and high growth potential, as well as the confidence in the bank by its various stakeholders.
With its innovative banking solutions driven by best-in-class technology, customer-centric operations, and its people, Access Bank is on course to achieve its 5-year plan of processing one in every two transactions in Africa and being present in major commercial hubs in the world.
“Access Bank’s presence in France represents an important step towards achieving its goal of bridging worlds and connecting opportunities for African businesses. The bank’s latest stride also lays a marker for realising its recently unveiled 5-year strategic growth plan.
Mr Roosevelt Ogbonna, the Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, said at the event, “Over the years, we have demonstrated a strong commitment to deepening the bank’s presence across Africa and beyond.”.
“Today, we are proud to have a presence in 18 countries across four continents, serving millions of customers and businesses. Indeed, our expansion drive has been guided by our vision to become the world’s most respected African bank, and by building on our strong track record of innovation, customer service, and social responsibility, we have come one step closer to achieving this goal.”
“We remain committed to building a bank that is truly global in scope, yet locally relevant in its approach, and we are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead as we continue to grow and expand our footprint in new markets,” Ogbonna added.
Access Bank UK, led by Mr Jamie Simmonds, would oversee the operations of the Paris subsidiary and would effectively become the umbrella company for other representative offices in the country.
Access Bank Paris has already received regulatory approval from the French Prudential Supervision and Resolution Authority (ACPR) and is now fully operational.
Afreximbank, Nigeria’s Letshego Win at African Banker Awards 2023
By Adedapo Adesanya
The African Banker Awards 2023 Gala Ceremony, the most prestigious event in the African banking calendar, took place last night at the Rixos Hotel in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, on the sidelines of the African Development Bank Annual Meetings and saw African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) winning two awards.
The ceremony was attended by over 300 of the continent’s leading bankers, regulators, and policymakers.
Now in its 17th edition, the African Banker Awards celebrate the achievements of individuals and institutions that have contributed significantly to the growth and development of Africa’s banking sector over the past year.
The top highlight of the ceremony was Ms Esther Kariuki becoming the second woman to win the African Banker of the Year Award. The Head of Agriculture Business at the Co-op Bank of Kenya has been a central figure in advancing agriculture as a key asset class for her institution.
She was also responsible for considerably increasing lending to the agriculture sector and oversaw the roll-out of the platform Co-op Bank Soko, a digital marketplace that connects the agriculture value chain and ensures, among other things, that small-holder farmers receive a higher price for their produce.
Afreximbank won two prestigious awards in Sharm El Sheikh in recognition of its growing leadership within Africa’s financial services sector. The Cairo-based institution was celebrated as both African Bank of the Year and Development Financial Institution of the Year, making it the sole institution to win more than one award during this year’s ceremony.
Mauritius’ Mr Harvesh Seegolam wins Central Bank Governor of the Year. The youngest ever serving governor of Mauritius Central Bank was appointed at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He leveraged Mauritius Investment Corporation (MIC) to provide critical financial support to key sectors of the economy by investing in private sector operators. Its latest returns report demonstrated that the investments made through the MIC have increased in value, despite the challenging economic conditions faced.
South African banks swept many of the Deal of the Year categories. South Africa’s Mr Enoch Godongwana won the Minister of Finance of the Year Award. He was recognised for his steadfast management of the economy as finance minister as well as the work he has done to encourage investment to accelerate the energy transition.
Nigeria was also in the spotlight as Letshego Nigeria took the inaugural AFAWA Bank of the Year Award, a category spotlighting financial institutions empowering female entrepreneurs across the continent.
The Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) is a pan-African initiative to bridge the $42 billion financing gap facing women in Africa.
The African Banker Icon was won by veteran dealmaker, Mr Miguel Azevedo, head of investment banking for sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa at Citi. The lifetime achievement award went to another veteran banker, Mr Hisham Ezz Al-Arab, former Managing Director and current Non-executive Chairman of CIB Bank, Egypt’s largest private sector bank.
Speaking at the event, Mr said Omar Ben Yedder, Committee Chairman and Group Publisher at IC Publications, publishers of African Banker, said this year’s award ceremony is a testament not only to the vibrancy and dynamism of Africa’s banking industry but also its increasing diversity.
“The financial services industry continues to demonstrate excellence, innovation and impact in their respective markets and regions.
“FinTech, Climate Finance, and Cross-Border payments are all being shaped by the leaders we are recognising today.”
The ceremony is organised by African Banker magazine, with the African Development Bank as its High Patron. This year’s AfDB Meetings focused on mobilising private sector finance towards green growth. The 2023 edition was sponsored by the African Guarantee Fund, the Trade and Development Bank (TDB) and Tanzania’s CRDB Bank.
Full list of winners:
Banker of the Year
Ms Esther Kariuki, Co-operative Bank of Kenya
Bank of the Year
African Banker Icon
Mr Miguel Azevedo, Citi
Mr Hisham Ezz Al-Arab, Commercial International Bank
Central Bank Governor of the Year
Mr Harvesh Seegolam, Bank of Mauritius
Minister of Finance of the Year
Mr Enoch Godongwana, South Africa
Sustainable Bank of the Year
Nedbank, South Africa
DFI of the Year
Fintech of the Year
SME Bank of the Year
La Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations – CDC
Deal of the Year – Debt
Harmony Gold Company syndicated multi-tranche, multi-currency, loan facility of $400m and R4bn – Absa & Nedbank
Deal of the Year – Equity
$298m Infinity Energy equity investment and Lekela Power acquisition – Africa Finance Corporation
Deal of the Year – Agriculture
$78m funding facility for the Southern Oil Structured Commodity Finance Transaction – Absa
Deal of the Year – Infrastructure
$900m debt funding facility for Scatec Solar PV plus Battery Storage Project – Standard Bank
Regional Bank of the Year – North
Bank of Africa
Regional Bank of the Year – Southern
Zambia National Commercial Bank (Zanaco)
Regional Bank of the Year – East
Regional Bank of the Year – Central
Trust Merchant Bank
Regional Bank of the Year – West
AFAWA Bank of the Year Award
FBNQuest Merchant Bank Promises to Accelerate Revenue Growth
By Adedapo Adesanya
FBNQuest Merchant Bank Limited, the investment banking and asset management subsidiary of FBN Holdings Plc, witnessed resilience and growth amid a challenging economic environment in 2022.
The Chairman of the firm, Mr Bello Maccido, while addressing shareholders at the 8th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the organisation in Lagos recently, expressed his satisfaction with the bank’s performance in the face of headwinds which created a challenging operating environment.
“2022 was a year filled with unprecedented challenges, but management’s resilience and the board’s keen oversight during the year resulted in the improved performance recorded.
“Our solid financial performance, growth across various business lines, and recognition through esteemed awards are a testament to our unwavering commitment to delivering value to our stakeholders,” he said while presenting the company’s Audited Financial Statements for the financial year ended December 31, 2022, to shareholders.
The bank recorded an impressive 312.5 per cent year-on-year increase in Profit Before Tax (PBT), with the growth driven largely by a 137.7 per cent increase in net interest income and a 34.4 per cent increase in gross earnings.
The bank’s commitment to cost optimization initiatives also helped to control operating expenses, which remained relatively flat year on year.
Speaking on this, Mr Kayode Akinkugbe, Managing Director of FBNQuest Merchant Bank, highlighted the bank’s strength and resilience during the challenging year.
He said, “The year 2022 was marked by significant economic turbulence, but we emerged stronger and more resilient. We were steadfast in our mission to Transform for Maximum Productivity by focusing on the strategic pillars of optimisation, innovation and partnerships, and this yielded positive results.
“We are proud of our achievements and remain focused on delivering exceptional value to our clients, employees, and shareholders.”
FBNQuest Merchant Bank received various awards and accolades in 2022, recognizing its excellence and contribution to the financial industry. These included the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Award for Infrastructure and Project Finance House of the Year, the EMEA Finance Africa Banking Awards for Best Asset Manager, and an ‘’A” rating from Agusto& Co., affirming the Bank’s stable outlook as a financial institution.
Looking ahead to 2023, Mr Akinkugbe acknowledged the macroeconomic and social challenges that Nigeria will face. Nevertheless, he expressed optimism about the improved outlook and opportunities for the bank’s various lines of business.
He stated, “We are dedicated to accelerating revenue growth purposely and responsibly. We will deepen our understanding of our evolving client base, offer novel products and services, pursue collaboration opportunities, and continue our digital transformation efforts.
“By remaining an employer of choice within our industry and nurturing high-quality staff, we will strengthen our position as a provider of investment solutions for all, a corporate and investment bank for entrepreneurs, and a trusted broker/partner for institutional investors.”
Access Bank Promotes Entrepreneurship Among NYSC Members
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
To promote entrepreneurship among members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Access Bank Plc has doled out N15.5 million to the participants of Batch A, Stream Two of the programme.
The beneficiaries, 55 in number, were chosen because they presented winning entrepreneurial ideas in Abuja, Delta, Kwara, Kaduna, and Rivers States.
“As an institution, we understand the role that young people play in the community and the nation, and we are committed to supporting their aspirations.
“We believe that the youths represent the future and hope of our nation. And we will do all we can to support their innovative ideas.
“Access Bank has been in a strategic partnership with NYSC since 2016. The relationship further evolved into the launch of Accessprenuer: The NYSC edition in February 2021.
“We have completed 13 editions of the Accessprenuer competition, impacting 490 corps members with N195 million seed capital.
“We have a Facebook community where the winners of these editions will interact freely amongst themselves and inspire young entrepreneurs with similar aspirations. The Facebook community has about 5,800 members,” the Group Head of Consumer Banking at Access Bank, Ms Njideka Esomeju, stated.
The star prize winner in Rivers State, Obot, who wants to go into the palm oil business, thanked Access Bank for motivating him with seed capital to realize his dream and have a brighter future.
Another winner from Abuja, Nifemi Ademola, who pitched on tomatoes harvesting and reproduction and won N700,000, said, “I really want to thank Access Bank for this initiative. The seed capital money I won today will really assist in expanding my business and also help me to acquire more tools that I need for efficient production in the future.”
One of the N400,000 winners in Kwara, Ugah Ebuka, said, “A very big thank you to Access Bank, and I pray that utilizing this cash for what it is actually meant for, my business will not just grow but be heard across the globe.”
The bank also rewarded other corps members across the country in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th -10th positions with N400,000, N250,000, N150,000, and N100,000, respectively.
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