Access Bank Plc Nigeria is rumored to be in talks to acquire some assets of Atlas Mara which is exiting some markets in Africa. According to Bloomberg, Access plans to buy Atlas Mara properties in Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia. It would be interesting to see how that plays out. Why? Former Barclays boss who ran Atlas Mara evidently overpaid in some of these African businesses. So now he wants to sell, would Access get its usual bargain hunting deals, in which it typically pays largely nothing, for extremely vital properties like defunct Diamond Bank?
And the big one: Access Bank wants to be in 22 African countries by 2025. It has a really long way to go. It is already the largest bank in Africa by customer base. But its market cap remains less than N300 billion even when GTBank Plc is hitting close to N1 trillion and Zenith Bank N740 billion.
Sure, there could be a strategy: have operations in most African countries for the emerging AfCTFA era, and using that, position the bank as the African bank. That is largely UBA’s playbook. Yet, UBA is worth just N280 billion which does imply that the spread has not unlocked leverageable factors for the bank.
Mr. Herbert Wigwe, Access boss, is a brilliant businessman; I wish him and the bank good luck. But he needs to calibrate if there are leverages on running banking operations in Zambia and Zimbabwe, going against battled-tested local players.---
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