By Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma
Access Bank Plc shareholders have unanimously approved the bank’s proposed reorganisation into a Holding Company (Holdco) to be known as Access Holding Plc.
The shareholders gave the approval at the bank’s Court- Ordered Meeting on Thursday in Lagos.
Speaking at the meeting, the President, Association for the Advancement of the Rights of Nigerian Shareholders, Dr Farouk Umar, commended the board and management for the foresight of transforming the bank to Holdco.
Umar said that Holdco structure would help in risk management and as well enable the company to diversify into other business opportunities to increase profitability.
The President, New Dimension Shareholders Association, Mr Patrick Ajudua, described the Holdco structure as a welcome development that would benefit the bank, shareholders and stakeholders.
Ajudua commended the board and management for moving the bank to greater heights and urged them to ensure enhanced returns on investment in the years ahead.
Earlier, Dr Ajoritsedere Awosika, Chairman, Access Bank, told the shareholders that the board considers the restructure to be the most appropriate to create strategic flexibility and diversification of the group’s revenues.
Awosika said the restructure would result in shareholders holding shares in the Holdco in the same proportion as their current holdings in the bank and the bank’s shares being held wholly by the Holdco.
She said the bank would continue to be subject to the full suite of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) banking regulations and in all other material respects.
Speaking on the justification for the restructuring, Awosika said that the transition to a financial Holding Company was in line with seven considerations.
She listed the considerations as regulatory compliance, facilitation of growth and expansion in banking across Africa, diversification into permissible financial services and risk management.
Others are risk management, ease of funding, capital allocation and speed of decision making.
Awosika explained that the structure would unburden the bank from oversight functions and responsibilities of managing the subsidiaries.
She added that it would ensure the bank was solely focused on its core operations to foster faster decision-making and business growth.
The bank’s Group Managing Director/CEO, Mr Herbert Wigwe, appreciated the shareholders for their continuous support since the inception of the bank in 2002.
Wigwe assured the shareholders that the board and management would remain committed to decisions that would take the bank to the next level.
He said that Access Bank had grown above the normal narrow banking definition – commercial bank.
“The instution has grown beyond a lot of one of those things, even the very presence of your institution in several countries requires a different organisational structure to handle all of those things.
“If anybody tells you that there is one managing director who will oversee 20 or 30 countries, it’s a lie. We all have only 24 hours in a day, how is he going to do it?
“We have to continuously evolve and create structure that will ensure there is proper oversight over the subsidiaries,” Wigwe said.
He noted that Access Bank was evolving into a larger and a different type of institution that would optimise and provide greater value to the shareholders.
Wigwe assured the shareholders that the structure would enhance the company’s profitability in the long-run.
He said that the company would follow high corporate governance standard to avoid conflict. (NAN)