Nigeria’s Access Holding eyes $1.5 billion share or bond sale

By Chijioke Ohuocha

ABUJA (Reuters) -Nigeria’s Access Holding Plc will seek a shareholders vote next month for approval to launch a capital raising program of $1.5 billion via a share sale or bond offering, to support its growth, it said on Thursday.

The holding company, which owns Access Bank, Nigeria’s biggest lender, said it will also ask existing shareholders for permission to raise 365 billion naira ($287 million) through a rights issue at a meeting set for April 19.

Shares of Nigerian-based Access Group, which operates across 15 countries, mostly in Africa but including Britain and France, rose 2.08% to 24.50 naira on the Nigerian bourse. They hit a high of 30.70 naira in January.

“We are looking at the best capital structure that will support execution to accelerate growth,” Access Bank Chief Executive Roosevelt Ogbonna told analysts on a call.

A recapitalisation is looming for the banking sector in Africa’s biggest economy and most populous nation after central bank governor Olayemi Cardoso said lenders need to play a bigger role in boosting economic growth.

At a monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting on Tuesday, where the central bank raised rates by 200 basis points to 24.75%, the MPC asked the regulator to quicken action on the recapitalisation of banks.

Access Group has also been expanding. Last week, Kenya’s KCB Group said it has agreed to sell subsidiary National Bank of Kenya (NBK) to Access Group, at 1.25 times book value, without providing the exact amount of the deal.

“Over the next 2-3 years, focus will shift to consolidation, driving higher returns and capital accretion,” the banking group said in an analyst presentation. “There are 4 or 5 key markets that we are targeting for expansion this year and next.”

Gross revenues grew to 2.6 trillion naira ($2.05 billion) in 2023, up 88% from a year earlier, while pretax profit hit 729 billion naira last year.

The corporation will also asked for approval to elect as a non-executive director Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, one of its founders, who had retired. The move comes after its chief executive Herbert Wigwe died in a helicopter crash last month.

($1 = 1,270.00 naira)

(Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha; editing by Jason Neely and Hugh Lawson)

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