Chinwendu Obienyi with agency report
Access Bank and Diamond Bank Plc have obtained approval in principle from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on their proposed merger plans.
According to Access Bank’s Executive Director, Personal Banking, Victor Etuokwu, the regulators have granted approval in principle for the merger process, adding that the banks were awaiting the final approval, which would be granted after convening shareholders meeting.
“So far, we have gotten approvals up to approval in principle. There are three approvals that we need for this process. The first one is the pre-order approval, which is like the first approval, the next approval is the approval in principle. “The final approval comes after approval in principle and it will come after you have convened your shareholders meetings,’’ Etuokwu said.
He said that the banks would convene shareholders meetings next month, noting that the approval would be taken to court once approved by the shareholders.
Etuokwu said all the processes, including final approval, would be completed in the next 60 days adding that the new bank would remain committed to retail and corporate banking to drive financial inclusion for desired growth and development.
“We need to invest in retail market to drive economic growth, this is what the new bank will do, a strong corporate and a strong retail bank,’’ he said.
On staff retrenchment, Etuokwu said that members of staff would be retrained for different roles in case of overlapping. “Staff will be retrained for new roles where there are overlaps, one of the branches can be converted to an e-branch or Automated Teller Machine (ATM) gallery,’’ he added.
Also speaking, Head, Retail, Diamond Bank, Robert Giles, said that integration of both banks had commenced for seamless service delivery.
Giles stated that the ATMs of both banks could be used by customers at no cost, noting that they were committed at taking costs away from customers.
The two banks is expected to have 27 million customers which is basically the largest customer base of any bank on the continent, about 33,000 Point of Sale (PoS) terminals as well as 13 million mobile customers.
Speaking to newsmen recently at a briefing, Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, explained that the merger would form a leading Tier-1 Nigerian bank and the largest bank in Africa by number of customers, spanning three continents, 12 countries and 29 million clients.
He noted that it would bring together treasury, risk management and corporate banking expertise with strong retail and digital banking capabilities to create a financial institution operating across the full suite of products for all customer segments.
According to him, Access Bank has enough capacity to consummate a merger with Diamond Bank without additional capital.