Shareholders Exit Access Bank Amid GMD Arrest Rumour

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By Dipo Olowookere

Some holders of Access Bank Plc shares sold off their stake in the financial institution on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on Monday amid rumour that Group Managing Director (GMD) of the bank, Mr Herbert Wigwe, was recently arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The lender, through its scribe, Mr Sunday Ekwochi, had in a statement last Friday refuted the rumour, emphasising that Mr Wigwe was only invited by the agency to clarify some issues surrounding the assets of one of its customers, Slok Nigeria Limited.

“The commission had invited for interrogation officials of Access Bank who were handling the bank’s recovery efforts on Slok credit including its Group Managing Director,” a part of the statement read.

Mr Ekwochi said Access Bank and EFCC had a “fruitful engagement,” noting that the lender was of the view that “the issues relating to Slok investigation have been resolved.”

Concluding the statement, the company secretary said, “As an institution built on best practice, we wish to assure our esteemed stakeholders that the Bank will continue to conduct its business in line with extant laws and relations.”

But despite this assurance, some shareholders of the bank sold off their shares at the stock market yesterday, causing the equities to lose 25 kobo per unit at the close of transactions to sell at N10.55 each against N10.80 it traded the previous session.

Business Post reports that Access Bank was the most traded stock at the local bouse during the session, trading 63.7 million units worth N682.5 million executed in 450 deals.

Recall that last week, the financial institution announced a reversal in its closed period earlier fixed to be begin from January 1, 2020. This was after the firm said it would no longer hold its board meeting on January 29, to consider and approve its full year 2019 earnings.

The development caused panic in some sections of the market, making the share price of the company to drop from N10.95 per unit on Thursday to N10.80 per unit on Friday.

Access Bank is one of the most liquid stocks on the NSE and information like the news surrounding its GMD causes panic among some investors, who quickly offload to watch how events will turn out.

However, some observers are of the opinion that the bank will get past the disruption caused by the rumour and the closed period reversal, which few analysts frown at, saying the lender should start to experience positive momentum.

“In fact, I must say that the present decline in the share price of Access Bank gives room for smart investors to quickly acquire them at cheaper prices because it has the tendency of hitting N14 to N15 this year,” an investors in the Nigerian capital market, who asked not to have his name mentioned in the media, told Business Post.

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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