Access Bank Plc, Nigeria’s biggest lender by customer base has dispels the news in some online media that it is planning the acquisition of Union Bank Plc.
In a letter to the Nigerian Stock Exchange on Monday 8, July 2019. The bank advised the general public to discountenance the rumour as same was devoid of truth.
The Letter signed by the Company Secretary, Sunday Ekwochi read:
“Our attention has been drawn to recent social media report of Access Bank being engaged in talks to acquire Union Bank of Nigeria.
“The Nigerian Stock Exchange and the general public are hereby advised to discountenance such rumour as same is devoid of truth.
“The bank is not engaged in any discussion with Union Bank of Nigeria or any of its shareholders regarding any such transaction,”
The debunked news is coming three months after Access Bank Plc completed the acquisition of Diamond Bank, a smaller lender by capital and asset base but with larger retail presence. The Diamond Bank acquisition also started as a rumour in late 2018.
Access Bank Plc is currently one of the five tier-one lenders in Nigeria. The Bank has acquired its status through acquisition of other banks.
In 2011, the Bank acquired Intercontinental Bank. Intercontinental Bank though seen as one of the banks with huge prospects then, but was taken over by the government after haven accused the management of fraudulent practices.
In 2018 Access Bank again completed its acquisition and merger agreement with Diamond Bank. Diamond, though a smaller bank but with wider spread presence in the retail space. Diamond bank was widely believed to be undergoing some tough times before the deal.
Atlas Mara owns the largest shareholding in Union Bank. The Bob Diamond led Sub-saharan Africa financial services group, bought its first stake in Union Bank in 2016 and it has since increased its hold about three times via rights issue participation Union Bank in 2017. Atlas Mara combined direct and indirect shareholding in Union Bank is now 49.0%.
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, while rolling out his five-year plan last month, announced that there would be another recapitalization exercise in the banking industry.
The disclosure by Mr Emefiele also brought about observers suspicion possible mergers in the sector, with some speculating the banks that may possibly merge or be acquired by some bigger banks. The dispeled Union Bank acquisition rumour is one of them.