Shareholders approve Access bank, Diamond bank merger

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…Demands court actions on Diamond Bank NPLs

By Kayode Tokede

The shareholders of Access Bank Plc have approved the merger with Diamond Bank Plc in accordance to federal high court ruling early in the year.

At a Court Ordered Meeting held on Tuesday in Lagos, 98 per cent of the bank’s shareholders gave their consent that all assets, liabilities and undertaking including real property and intellectual property rights of Diamond Bank would be transferred to Access Bank, thus dissolving Diamond Bank without being wound up.

Also under the Scheme of Merger, Diamond Bank shareholders are to be paid N1 per each issued and paid-up ordinary shares held as at the time of the Court-Ordered Meeting.

Shareholders also commended the decision of the management team to give Diamond Bank shareholders a soft landing with the offering of N1 per ordinary share, while demanding the management of Access Bank to take court actions over Diamond Bank Non-Performing Loans (NPLs).

Speaking at the meeting, a shareholder, Sunny Nwosu, expressed confidence and trust that the merger will be a successful one while advocating for a special dividend to pushing the effect of the dilution for existing shareholders of Access Bank.

Reacting to shareholders comments and benefits derived from the merger, Herbert Wigwe, Group Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer, said while Diamond bank is coming into the union with bad debts, Access Bank has the capacity to absorb and handle it.

According to him, Access Bank is putting in place a strong team of to ensure that they recover as much as possible depositors’ money that are with debtors.

Noting that the merger will allow Access Bank to accelerate its prospects of becoming the leading retail bank in Nigeria an Africa, he said “through the merger with Diamond Bank, Access bank will achieve the exponential expansion of its retail banking franchise.

According to him, “Access Bank will benefit from Diamond Bank’s unparalleled retail banking activities and strong digital offerings. Together the two banks will create one of Nigeria’s leading banks with 27 million customers, 3100 ATMs, 32000 PoS and more than 10 million mobile customers.

“Access Bank and Diamond Bank share similar areas of focus including women, youths, financially excluded and entrepreneurs.  The combined relationship will have a robust mobile banking relationship ensuring that customers of the enlarged Access bank would continue to access a strong mobile banking

“Access bank and Diamond Bank will also operate from the same technology platform which the boards of both banks will enable them complete the integration with minimal disruption in addition to generating synergies.”

Listing the benefits of the merger he said the boards of both banks believe that merging the two banks will provide significant opportunities and benefit to customers staff, shareholders regulators and other shareholders one of which is the establishment of the largest retail bank in Africa by the number of customers

Wigwe said the enlarged Access Bank skill and product range will further accelerate the financial inclusion drive that both banks have been doing separately, adding that an increased its maker reach will ensure customer convenience through an expanded branch network complemented by strengthened distribution channels

He explained further that, “The enlarged Access Bank will have a strengthened commercial banking business through the combination of customers and by leveraging the combined product offerings

“The combination of Diamond Bank’s strong retail customer franchise and Access Bank proven risk management and capital management expertise will create a Nigerian financial institution with strong value creation.

“The enlarged Access Bank balance sheet in terms of size will be equipped with the capacity to provide credit lines to our more diversified client base. Finally the enlarged Access bank will be a stronger and safer institution with an enlarged capital base.”

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