Nigeria’s biggest bank by asset Access Bank said it has entered a binding pact to merge its Zambian unit with African Banking Corporation Zambia Limited in a planned reformation coming barely nine months after it bought the subsidiary.
The agreement sets in motion the quest to broaden Access Bank’s presence in the Southern African country to 70 branches and agencies, customer base to 300,0000 and total assets with a value in the neighbourhood of $1 billion through the combined entity, the lender stated in a note to the Nigerian Exchange Limited on Monday.
It also hinted at the possibility of upping its stake in the entity after the deal is delivered.
The Herbert Wigwe-led bank has been hyperactive in Africa’s merger and acquisition market this year, the immediate target of expansion being the Southern Africa region where four takeovers have already been completed in economies as diverse as Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Botswana.
Access Bank ended trade in Lagos on Monday at N9.45 per share, declining by 0.53 per cent.
Three of the banks purchased through the acquisitions were from Atlas Mara Limited, the holding company, which owns African Banking Corporation and the biggest shareholding in Union Bank of Nigeria Plc translating to 49.97 per cent of the lender’s issued share capital.
Bloomberg said in January Atlas Mara could be considering offers to purchase its stake in Union Bank from Access Bank and Zenith Bank.
“The merger of Atlas Mara Zambia with Access Bank Zambia is expected to augment our presence in Zambia and the broader COMESA region, Africa’s largest free trade area,” CEO Wigwe said in the statement.
Access Bank, whose grand aspiration is to be Africa’s financial gateway to the world, expects its operation outside Nigeria, its base, to bring as much as 30 per cent to the group’ pool of profit this financial year.