BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

Access, Diamond Bank to wear new brand identity in next 6 days

…N6.11trn asset, 24% larger than tier-1 banks …Diamond gets executive director slot in enlarged Board

For shareholders and customers of both Access Bank plc and Diamond Bank plc, the much-expected new future that produces an enlarged single entity will soon berth.

Six days from now, a new brand identity that reflects the merged institutions will be unveiled across the banks’ branches.

Ahead of this “tomorrow that is coming” so fast, Access Bank notified the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) of the appointment of Chizoma Okoli as executive director, Business Banking Division.

Okoli, who until her appointment was an executive director in Diamond Bank, replaces Titi Osuntoki who had resigned her position effective March 18.

This implies that Diamond Bank has got its slot into Board of the enlarged entity, according to a source close to this development, noting that “interestingly, Okoli’s appointment was not an additional appointment but a replacement”.

In December 2018, the two banks announced their merger plans following the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement and announcement of headline terms which valued Diamond Bank at approximately $200 million.

“We are very delighted to welcome Okoli to the Board of Access Bank,” said Herbert Wigwe, group managing director, Access Bank plc.

“She brings on board very deep banking industry and boardroom experience relevant to our bank. Her appointment will no doubt improve the skill set and diversity of our Board and support our quest to become the world’s most respected African bank and Africa’s gateway to the world,” Wigwe said.

Last week Tuesday, Access Bank obtained a court sanction of the deal which was sequel to the final approval by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on the agreement.

The Access-Diamond merger will birth Nigeria’s biggest lender with a total asset of about N6.11 trillion, accounting for 24 percent of total aggregate value of N18.9 trillion assets owned by all tier-one banks.

The merger will form a leading tier-one Nigerian bank and the largest bank in Africa by number of customers, spanning three continents, 12 countries and 29 million customers. It will bring together treasury, risk management and corporate banking expertise with strong retail and digital banking capabilities to create a financial institution operating across the full suite of products for all customer segments.

The merger’s cost synergies, conservatively estimated at N30 billion per annum pre-tax, are to be fully realised within three years post-completion.

The Access-Diamond merger means “stronger player, more power, more scope, more reach and more coverage, combining their assets together”, according to Uju Ogubunka, president, Bank Customers’ Association of Nigeria (BCAN).

“I hope they will be able to fund large transactions with long tenure without problem and as well serve their customers without problem,” he said.

Ayodele Akinwunmi, head of research at FSDH Merchant Bank Limited, said the merger is good for the banking industry as it demonstrates the capabilities of all the stakeholders in the merger arrangement that they can execute a merger in a timely manner. It also demonstrates that there is an opportunity for players in the industry to grow inorganically in addition to their organic growth strategy.

The merger is also good news for customers of Access and Diamond as they will have access to more products and services from the combined entity given that the strengths of the two banks are now combined in one bank. The merger will ensure that customers of both banks continue to experience the best banking experience, with zero disruptions to normal banking services.

The new entity will have 29 million customers with 13 million mobile customers, with a wide spread of over 3,000 ATMs and over 13,000 digital/financial inclusion customers. Customers of both Diamond Bank and Access Bank will have access to over 600 branches, where they can enjoy same-day clearing of cheques in either bank, just as they will get rewarded for using either Diamond Bank or Access Bank POS terminals. In the meantime, more lounges for the Diamond Bank XclusivePlus subscribers will be created.

“Access Bank is very proactive and expect that by now it will communicate on how to go about these things. Next week or first week of April, things will unfold in terms of what people expect. For us as bank customers, what is critical is safety of our money, ability to access it,” said Ogubunka.

Contrary to fears that customers may pull their funds from Diamond Bank, Akinwunmi said no such thing will happen.

“This is because I believe the customers of Diamond Bank will enjoy more services from the combined entity than the individual banks, which will make them happy,” he said.

 

Iheanyi Nwachukwu, Hope Moses-Ashike & David Ibidapo

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