Shareholders of Access Bank have said the lender’s aggressive drive towards pulling resources across industries to provide technical and operational support in the fight against of Coronavirus through the CACOVID would ultimately help to combat the spread of the virus in Nigeria.
The shareholders, who spoke at the yearly general meeting of the bank, in Lagos, recently, said CACOVID has done a lot in the areas of providing funding and building advocacy through aggressive awareness drives to curtail the spread of the pandemic.
Specifically, the Founder, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Sunny Nwosu, commended Access Bank’s efforts in the private-sector-led, Coalition Against COVID-19, to support Federal Government’s fight against the pandemic, including providing and equipping medical facilities in the six geopolitical zones.
Nwosu noted that the future remains very bright for all shareholders, given the synergy, the merger with Diamond Bank has brought; in addition to the expertise of the management and staff in ensuring that the lender maintains a leading role in the retail banking space.
In his address, the Group Managing Director/CEO, Access Bank Plc, Dr. Herbert Wigwe, said the group delivered a 26 per cent increase in gross earnings of N666.8billion from N528.7billion in 2018, comprising interest income growth of 41 per cent from previous levels to N155.9billion despite declining interest rate environment.
“The effects of an enlarged loan book contributed significantly to the interest income growth of N155.9billion (+41 per cent y/y), leading to strong bottom-line figures.
“The net effect on operating income resulted in strong profit before tax (PBT) of N115.4billion as against N103.2billion in 2018. The strength of the performance reflects a growing franchise supported by digital capabilities and improving customer service touchpoints.
“The retail business gained momentum, leveraging opportunities in key sectors to consolidate market share dominance through our digital loans. The wholesale business also continued to soar in the year, following intense marketing drive and continued investment in the sector to deliver stronger synergies,” he said.
The bank ended the year with a profit after tax (PAT) of N97.509 billion, up from N94.981billion and paid a final dividend of 40 kobo to bring the total dividend to 65 kobo per share.
Wigwe agreed that the merger with Diamond Bank produced a truly diversified institution with a remarkable retail presence and solid wholesale market share.
“This has propelled us towards achieving our five-year strategic objectives to create the largest bank in Nigeria by total assets as well as largest in Africa by customer base with over 36 million unique customers across the network.
“With the emergence of the new entity, the bank is well-positioned to cater to the retail business through a broader reach and product offerings tailored to individual customer needs and delivered efficiently. Access Bank is now a tier-one retail banking franchise with strong digital payments capabilities and benefits from a diversified business mix,” he said.
Wigwe said the bank is already addressing the issue of high operating expenses, and taking drastic measures to reduce them significantly, adding that “Access Bank was well-prepared for the COVID-19 early enough, and created ways of working from home and working with our customers. We set up links with our customers and many ways of reaching out to our customers three or four times a day.
“This happened even before we started working with the larger society and enabled us to start fighting this pandemic. So Access Bank has put a system in place and now working with CACOVID to make sure that everyone knows what he is doing,” he said.