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Access Holdings shareholders approve N46.21bn final dividend for 2022

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By Philemon Adedeji

Access Holdings plc (the company) a non operating financial holding company licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), held its 1st Annual General Meeting (AGM), yesterday at the Federal palace hotel in Lagos, where all resolutions were approved by the shareholders.

At the AGM, the Shareholders approved N1.30 Kobo per ordinary share, this in addition to the interim dividend of 50 Kobo per ordinary shares.

In 2022 financial year, the group recorded a Profit Before Tax of N167.7 billion for the year, as total assets increased impressively by 28.2 per cent from N11.7 trillion in December 2021 to N15.0 trillion in December 2022.

Deposits from customers grew by 33 per cent from N6.9 trillion in 2021 to N9.3 trillion in 2022.Our shareholders equity also grew by 17 per cent from N1.05 trillion in 2021 to N1.23 trillion in 2022. Despite the tough macro-economic conditions , with inflation at over 20 per cent, we aggressively drove down our cost to income ratio despite ongoing business expansion.

The Group Chairman of Access Holdings, Bababode Osunkoya, commented that 2022 was a year of unprecedented challenges for Access holdings plc and for society more broadly.

“As a company we continued to demonstrate our resilience, our ability and commitment to support customers, clients and wider stakeholders in ever changing economic conditions.”

According to him, the year saw the outbreak of the Ukraine -Russia war in Europe, climate disasters, continuing effects of COVID-19 which posed a great threat in large parts of the world and an unexpected Sovereign debt issue in Ghana. These resulted in the partial reeling -in of globalisation and considerable pressure on households and businesses from rising inflation.

“In times like this, it is good to be able to report that Access Holdings plc remains financially and operationally resilient despite the significant macroeconomic headwinds in 2022. There is a high level of consciousness from the board that there is much work ahead.”

He added that “transitioning into a Non-operating financial the group has approximately 27,000 employees, and as I have mentioned earlier, I have always been humbled by the dedication of colleagues to the pursuit of our purpose and by the way they embrace the societal and climatic challenges experience by all.

“In conclusion, the board and Management’s go to our shareholders, customers and all who have stood by us over the years. With your support, we continue to build a world class, sustainable institution underpinned by strong ethical and governance standards. We intend to maintaine these standards as we progress further towards becoming one of the top five financial services provider in the next 6 years.”

Also, Group Chief Executive of Access Holdings, Herbert Wigwe said post COVID-19 pandemic, economists had anticipated that inflation will be transitory, instead Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sparked Europe’s worst energy crisis since the 1970s. Inflation, reinforced by war , disruption of supply chains, and the continued impact of climate change, became some of the world’s biggest macroeconomic concerns.

“In a year with significant inflationary pressures and tighter Central Bank monetary policies globally, we drove our growth strategy, supported our customers through the challenges they faced, whilst creating significant value for shareholders. In Nigeria we saw the Monetary Policy Rate increased from 11.5 per cent in Q1 2022 to 16.5 per cent by the end of 2022 and 18.0 per cent in March 2023, as fight to stem inflation continued.

“The FX challenges worsened in 2022 and this saw the gap between the parallel market and the NAFEX rate grow by as much as N400:$1 in Q3 2022, before pulling back slightly. Despite these multiple challenges, we made headway in deepening relationships with multinational clients and corporates, boosting loyalty and customers acquisition across many countries.

“The Monetary normalisation process instituted by many Central Banks is expected to continue across many countries in 2023, leading to a gradual slowdown in the global economic activity.”

Speaking on operational business review, he said, “Our success on our strategic plan largely focused around becoming the leading bank in Nigeria between 2018-2022. This is even more remarkable as this period included the COVID-19 pandemic, showing the strength of our business model- our customers focus, scale, diversification – and progress we continue to make in our business transformation, while maintaining an ongoing disciplined approach to capital allocation.

“We have seen huge structural changes across the world over the past decade, driven by changing regulations, technology, competitive landscape and most importantly in the case of Africa, significantly changes in demographics.

“In conclusion, to improve our operational efficiency, we will continue to deploy technologies at scale in our organisation. Our cloud adoption rate, which is the percentage of our technology services on the private or public cloud, has increased consistently over the years. Today we have 80 per cent of our services running on cloud infrastructure.”

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Crypto: SEC launches new initiative to speed up VASP registration

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The Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has launched a new program aimed at speeding up the registration process of Virtual Assets Service Providers (VASP).

According to the regulatory body, the new program will serve as an amendment to existing rules and is targeted at improving the current regulatory framework to fit the existing complexities of the crypto industry in the country.

In March, the Nigerian SEC announced steep changes to its Rules on Digital Assets Issuance, Offering Platforms, Exchange, and Custody.

The most significant aspect of the change was the increase in registration fees of VASPs from 30 million naira ($20,161) to 150 million ($100,806) which raised much criticism and speculation because of the potential to reduce business participation.

The latest adjustment was announced in a memo on June 21 unveiling a specific amendment to these VASP registration rules which introduces the Accelerated Regulatory Incubation Program (ARIP).

The new program which is expected to last for 30 days creates a window of opportunity for all “operating and prospective” VASPs in Nigeria to speedily complete all requirements thus ensuring full compliance across board.

The commission mandated all active and existing VASPs in the country to head to the SEC ePortal to commence the Accelerated Regulatory Incubation Program.

All defaulting VASPs are liable to prosecution by the nation’s regulatory body.

The new initiative is another brainchild of SEC Chief Emomotimi Agama who rode into office with a crypto-friendly reputation but his actions and initiatives since entering office have resonated wrongly on the stakeholders in the Nigerian crypto space.

One of his loudest Anti-crypto policies occurred in May when the SEC chief led an onslaught on the listing of the Naira on various crypto exchanges. The SEC chief argued that Peer-to-peer trading of the naira on crypto exchanges is responsible for the devaluation of Nigeria’s local currency.

The onslaught led to several crypto exchanges like Binance and Kucoin delisting Naira from their platform.

The SEC’s body language so far reflects a stringent approach to regulating cryptocurrency and its entities in Nigeria.

In December 2023, the Central Bank of Nigeria lifted its two-year prohibition on banks operating accounts for VASPs in a bid to embrace a more friendly regulatory approach towards cryptocurrencies rather than banning them outright.

Despite this positive move, Microfinance banks remained banned from facilitating crypto transactions. This development coupled with the hike in registration fees and the latest ARIP program suggests that the SEC is bent on upholding very strict regulatory measures for the crypto industry in Nigeria.

Nigeria is among the countries with very high and fast crypto adoption. Over 22 million people (10.3 percent) of the population are active crypto owners.

The crackdown on peer-to-peer naira trading by the Nigerian SEC resulted in Binance and Kucoin delisting the naira from its platform.

The Nigerian authorities and Binance limited, the largest crypto exchange in the world are currently amid a spat that led to the detention of a Binance executive in a Nigerian prison. The spat between both groups has made the headlines in most top news outlets.

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GTCO rated Nigeria’s ‘Strongest Brand and Best Banking Brand’ in Nigeria

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By Seun Ibiyemi

Africa’s leading financial services institution, Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc (GTCO), has added to its impressive haul of accolades as it was recently named Nigeria’s strongest brand and Best Banking Brand in Nigeria by Brand Finance and Global Brands Magazine, respectively.

These awards not only reaffirm GTCO’s position as a leading financial services group but also spotlights the Group’s enduring reputation as a customer-focused brand.

Over the years, GTCO has demonstrated remarkable commitment to shaping the future of financial services in Africa and is renowned for its innovative approach to customer service and stakeholder engagement.

The Group’s brand strength is underpinned by a strong commitment to delivering cutting-edge financial solutions, fostering meaningful customer relationships, and Promoting Enterprise using its proprietary free business platforms.

Commenting on the two awards, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc, Segun Agbaje, said, “These achievements are a reflection of our unwavering commitment to excellence, innovation, and customer satisfaction, as well as to building a truly international brand from our proudly African roots.

“We are delighted to receive these recognitions and inspired to continue delivering our promise of enriching lives with every opportunity.”

GTCO is a leading financial services group with banking operations in Nigeria, West Africa, East Africa, and the United Kingdom alongside non-banking verticals in HabariPay, Guaranty Trust Fund Managers, and Guaranty Trust Pension Managers.

Its leadership in the banking industry and efforts at empowering people and communities has earned it many prestigious awards over the years.

The Group’s flagship banking franchise, Guaranty Trust Bank, was named Nigeria’s Best Bank and Best Bank in CSR at the 2023 Euromoney Awards for Excellence, Best Banking Group in Nigeria by World Finance, and Best Bank in Nigeria by Global Finance.

Guaranty Trust Bank is featured in the Top 1000 Banks in the World and Top 100 Banks in Africa rankings by The Banker.

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SEC introduces guidelines for banks to raise capital efficiently

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By Opeyemi Abdulsalam

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has introduced a comprehensive framework to support the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) bank recapitalisation program.

This framework aims to ensure a seamless, transparent, and efficient process for banks and holding companies to raise capital.

The framework serves as a guide for banks and market participants, outlining the necessary procedures and guidelines for raising capital through various methods, including rights offerings and private placements, between 2024 and 2026.

The SEC recognises the importance of strengthening banks’ asset base and supporting economic growth, as highlighted by the CBN’s directive.

The framework acknowledges the crucial role of the capital market in facilitating this program, enabling banks to access necessary funds and explore business combinations.

According to the SEC, this framework will ensure an efficient, transparent, and stakeholder-friendly capital raising process.

The SEC has established a streamlined application process, requiring electronic submission of applications and supporting documents via a dedicated email address.

The commission will review applications, communicate any deficiencies to applicants, and expect prompt resolution to avoid delays. Incomplete applications will incur penalties, including a N1,000,000 fine and N100,000 re-filing fee, encouraging banks to submit complete and accurate information.

The SEC encourages inquiries and clarifications via a dedicated email address, ensuring open communication and efficient navigation of the process.

Building on existing regulations, this framework should be read in conjunction with relevant provisions of the Investment and Securities Act, 2007, and the Commission’s Rules and Regulations.

In response to the CBN’s directive, the SEC framework provides a clear guide for banks and market participants, aiming to strengthen Nigeria’s banking sector and support economic growth.

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