Access Bank-Diamond Bank merger targets to boost small businesses

By Mike Uzor

The new bank that will emerge from the business combination of Access Bank and Diamond Bank will trigger the growth of small businesses and set a new pace for the banking industry. Mr. Victor Etuokwu, executive director, personal banking, Access Bank plc, made this known at a meeting with journalists in Lagos on Monday.

He said the expected impact of the bank in process in the marketplace would trigger the retail end of the market to the extent that other banks would follow the lead.

According to him, the strengths of the two banks are being combined to build a new institution that will create value for customers. He said the focus of most banks has been in the corporate arm of the business, neglecting the retail side of the market.

Etuokwu observed that the banking industry has come to a stage in which the need to drive the retail end of the market has become crucial and the merger between Access Bank and Diamond Bank is designed to accomplish this purpose.

The emerging bank, he said, would be both a strong corporate and a strong retail bank. The strategy is to take Diamond Bank’s strength in the retail market and combine it with Access Bank’s strength in the corporate end of the market to create value for customers.

“With this kind of bank coming up, the impact in the market will trigger small businesses. This section of the economy not well served before will now get attention”, Etuokwu said.

On how the coming together of the two banks will help customers, he said it will save money for them because charges they used to pay on transactions between the two institutions will now become free. Also, solutions to customers’ needs would be enlarged in the combined business.

By optimising strengths in both the retail and corporate markets, the emerging bank would create value that will appeal to both sides of the market, Etuokwu said.

The business combination between the two banks has received the preliminary approval of the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN]. The next stage in the process is the convening of shareholders’ meeting, which is expected to take place in February.

An approval of shareholders is needed for the merger to proceed through the court processes before a final approval by CBN and the Securities and Exchange Commission can be obtained.

Etuokwu expects that these processes would be completed within the next 60 days and the merger would be finalized by the end of the first quarter.

The emerging bank is envisaged to be the largest bank in Nigeria and one of the top 10 banks in Africa. It is expected to have presence in all the key financial centres in the world. This will position it as the gateway of Africa to the world, Etuokwu said.

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