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The Story Of How Herbert Wigwe and Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede Took Over Access Bank

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Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, co-founder of Access Bank Plc, has disclosed a rare insight into how himself and partner, Herbert Wigwe bought and transformed Access Bank Plc through the capital market.

The billionaire banker revealed this during the just concluded African Stock Exchanges Association (ASEA) conference held in Lagos.

Speaking in a chat with Oscar Onyema, the session moderator and CEO, Nigerian Stock Exchange, Aig-Imhokuede said prior to the takeover of the old Access Bank, the financial institution was a very small bank and had been listed on the NSE.

“It was a small bank listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange but wasn’t being run well. They tried to raise capital, and the markets were not responding very positively to its attempt to raise capital,” the former bank CEO said.

He then narrates how they make the move to actualize the takeover of the bank from the old owners.

“That was the opportunity for myself and Herbert Wigwe, whom I had convinced crazily that we should leave Guaranty Trust Bank and buy Access Bank. It took $10 million to buy 51 per cent of Access Bank. Between Herbert and I, we had $2 million. We understood the markets, and we were able to fund a group that basically raised $10 million, and then we bought Access Bank.

“Without Access Bank being listed, this story would never have happened. It would have been much difficult,” he added.

Speaking further, Aig-Imoukhuede noted that after the acquisition, he set the audacious goal of making Access Bank being among the top ten banks in Nigeria.

“In 2002, we bought into Access Bank, and the first thing I learned was that the dollar balance sheet of Access Bank was a bit smaller than Aliko Dangote’s credit card limit. I thought to myself, after GTBank, what had I gotten myself into.”

He continued, “In the market then, Access Bank was 80 out of 90 banks. We came to the stock exchange and said that in five years’ time, Access Bank would be among the top 10 banks. The market didn’t laugh. The investors didn’t laugh. They looked at these highly driven young men and women and said, let’s give them a chance. Five years later, we were number 8.”

After meeting the top 10 target set, Aig-Imokhuede’s team set an even bigger goal of becoming one of the top 5 banks in Nigeria.

“We then said in five years’ time, we would be in the top five. Moving from 80 to 8, was a bit easier than from 8 to top 5, because the institutions around were very formidable. That in itself, also concretised the need for us to grow regional,” he confessed while claiming that Access Bank is currently in the third or fourth position in Nigeria, depending on what metric used.

Aig-Imoukhuede also hinted that there’s a major deal in the works and gave advice to entrepreneurs interested in rolling out across Africa.

The successful banker who in his post–Access Bank career founded Coronation Capital, stated that basic needs were yet to be met in Africa.

“If you look at the African opportunity, it’s about meeting basic needs, because basic needs are largely unprovided for, and provide solutions to those basic needs at scale. Think about Aliko and cement,” he said.

In his view, African financial providers had played a lot on the short end of financial solutions. Money transfer, credit cards, but the need around safety, security and wealth creation is completely unmet today, apart from in South Africa.

“Yes, we are beginning to open pensions; yes, we are beginning to grow an asset management field, but honestly speaking, we are on the ground floor. When I left Access Bank, I said I’m going to keep my investments in short money, but focus my mind on the long money game.”

He then gave a brief into why he founded the Coronation Capital after he left Access Bank.

“So Coronation Capital is essentially a private equity platform that has grown into a much larger diversified investment management platform. We want to, as we did with Access Bank, establish very firmly in Nigeria and then grow regional.”

The former President of Nigerian Stock Exchange hinted there is a deal in the works involving Coronation and the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

“I’m giving you a sneak preview into a major announcement you are going to hear in January, but I think a lot of money is going to be made in that space. The stock exchange for the Coronation Investment platform is a tool that we are going to be providing to the market. So there’s a lot going to happen,” he added.

Aig-Imokhuede said the move would have taken place prior to this time, but for his serving as the President of the NSE.

His words; “My being President of the Exchange held me down, because I couldn’t do things that would put me in conflict in my role. So as I disengage, I would be able to unleash my creativity in the capital markets for wealth creation.”

“Whether the country is small or the country is big, the country will have a President, the country will have a Central Bank Governor, and other regulators, who must be given their sovereign respect.”

“You need a lot of energy and you need a lot of relational skills when you say you want to roll out. When you receive a phone call that this President wants to see you now, you need to get on a plane and make sure you see him. When you need an approval, or a policy context that can make or mar your dream, you need to interact.”

Aig-Imoukhuede also gave a glimpse into his interest in philanthropic efforts.

“The one thing I have found across African countries is that it was too often the exception, that the public service in Africa, was an enabler of dreams. In Africa, too often policymakers and policy implementers were disablers of dreams. And I said, why? Why should I almost have to die to make my business work? Why should I as a barber in Obalende, in addition to learning how to cut hair, why do I have to learn how to be a power generator to run a shop?”

“I then did a study, and I found that over several years from the mid-70s, Africa suffered a massive under-investment in capacity development of the public sector, while there was a shift of massive investments to the private sector.”

“We cannot afford to live in Africa, with this under-investment in capacity in the public sector; we will all suffer for it. So, AIG (Africa Institute of Governance) is all about building capacity in the public sector. So, the first thing we did was scholarships to Oxford University Blavantik School of Government, to study for a Masters in Public Policy (MPP), on the condition that you must come back and work for your home country. Next, was a fellowship programs for public servants who have excelled.”

Aig-Imoukhuede also disclosed that the organisation was working on a world-class finishing school that will be as good as JFK and BSG in Africa and for Africans.

In addition, AIG was working with the civil service in Nigeria around reform.

He listed two ways African Stock Exchanges can provide value.

“The first thing is this: clearly an exchange in Africa will have to walk the same path as exchanges across the world to make themselves fit for purpose. If you are mutual, you have to demutualise.”

According to him, this would enable the exchanges to be more entrepreneurial in thinking while adopting technology would also help exchanges be more useful.

“In addition, technology can also play a big role. I think that with the very many options around, from blockchain to distributed ledger technology, to simply digital systems for distributing retail products, the ability to leapfrog and serve retail markets is enormous.”

P.M Express

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Titan Trust Bank set for grand entry into Nigeria

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Barring any last-minute changes, one of the five new banks licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Titan Trust Bank Limited is set for entry into the Nigerian banking industry in grand style, in a matter of weeks, The Witness can authoritatively reveal.

This newspaper had reported that the CBN recently approved licenses for five new banks to operate in the country.

While others are still recruiting and putting things in place, inside sources say Titan Trust, a national financial institution, has completed its processes and is set for take-off soon.

Led by seasoned banker and former deputy governor of the CBN, Mr. Tunde Lemo as chairman, the new commercial bank, sources informed The Witness is starting operation with a solid post capitalization financial base in real cash.

Some of those already on board the new bank are experienced financial gurus, giving the signal that the bank is ready the compete with the long-standing and well-rooted Nigerian banks.

According to the lender, the bank was formed to take advantage of the identified gaps in the banking sector and address the unmet needs of the retail mass market, SMEs and corporates.

The new bank headquartered at Plot 1680, Sanusi Fafunwa Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria has the following facilities: Commercial Banking, SME Banking, Digital Banking amongst others. On its commercial banking services, the lender said on its website: “As a national commercial bank, we are committed to supporting businesses, giving them the power to build a better future. Each day, companies are working together to create sustainable economic value.

“We are committed to that vision by ensuring we provide business capital and resources, primed to support these visions, as we continue to tell Africa’s story.”

Titan Trust Bank believes there is nothing like a small business. “All businesses are exactly that; businesses! Our team is made of professionals with an entrepreneurial mindset, working to help you and your business take advantage of the many benefits of banking with Titan, and give your competition a run for their money,” it said.

Titan Trust further posited that it will leverage on digital platforms to empower the emerging pan-African economy, whilst showcasing the industry pioneering solutions, expertise and professionalism.

Established on the 12th of December 2018, the bank obtained its national banking license on the 26th of April 2019, to operate as a commercial bank with national authorization.

OTHERS IN THE TITAN TEAM

Mr. Andrew Ojei

Mr. Andy Ojei is a Fellow of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria as well as a Fellow and Council Member of The Institute of Credit Administration of Nigeria.

He was the pioneer managing director of Zenith Bank, Ghana. He left Zenith Bank Plc in June 2013 as an executive director after 21 years of service. He is a seasoned businessman with interests in real estate and information technology.

Ojei, an alumnus of the University of Lagos, Enugu State University of Science and Technology, INSEAD (France), Stanford (Singapore) and Wharton (Philadelphia) currently serves as a member of the Governing Council of Ritman University, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State.

Alhaji Abubakar Mohammed

Alhaji Abubakar Mohammed is a seasoned entrepreneur with over 30 years’ experience managing and leading businesses across the country.

He is the managing director of Syndicated Investment Limited, a construction firm. He has held this post for over 33 years.

He has also been the chairman/CEO of Impex Limited, a security, contracting and trading company since 1993.

Alhaji Aminu Bashari

Alhaji Bashari Aminu (Iyan Zazzau), is the chairman of the Board of Directors of Vital Products Limited.

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Financial Accountants (UK) and a Fellow of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria. He is a senior title holder in the Emirate of Zazzau and was a Senior District Head of Sabon-Gari, Zaria in Kaduna State from 1979 to 2018.

He is currently on the board of several companies.

Mudassir Amray – MD/CEO

Mudassir Amray is a banker with over 25 years of global exposure across six geographies (US, Nigeria, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Pakistan).

He has held senior positions in global banks such as: Citi New York – Managing Director & Head of Global Capital Management (LATAM), Citi Nigeria – Managing Director & Head of Corporate & Investment Banking, Nigeria and Ghana, Al Rajhi Malaysia – Country Business Head, Citi HK – Head of Capital Management, Asia Pacific, Citi Singapore – Head of Islamic Banking, Asia Pacific, Citi Pakistan, Country Business Head.

Adaeze Udensi – Executive Director

Adaeze has over 23 years’ banking experience, and was until recently, an Executive Director in Heritage Bank.

In her four years as executive director, she supervised the South businesses; oversaw Retail, Private Wealth, Collections, E-Business, Customer Experience and IT functions; and served as Executive Compliance Officer.

Adaeze also acted as managing director of Heritage Bank in 2017. Prior to this, she spent 16 years in Zenith Bank growing its Oil & Gas, Public Sector, Commercial and Retail businesses into the 2nd largest portfolio in the Bank, leaving as a general manager.

Adaeze has a first degree in banking, and MBA’s from Rivers State University of Science & Technology, and the University of Bangor, Wales.

She has also attended several Executive Management Programmes in Wharton Business School, Kellogg School of Management, Harvard Business School, and INSEAD.

Stella Nwihim – Head of HR

Stella is a seasoned professional with over 21 years’ experience spanning Human Resources, Sales and Banking Operations.

She has held key HR positions in Zenith Bank Plc and UBA Plc including Head Workforce Planning, Head Shared Services and Head Business Partnering, where she made significant contributions in organizational development, performance and change management and business strategy.

She holds a B.Sc. and M.Sc. (Biology) and an MBA (Management) and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Mark Oguh – CFO

Mark has 22 years’ experience in the banking industry covering Operations, Audit and Financial Control.

He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in accountancy and business administration and an MBA in banking and finance. He was the financial controller at Diamond Bank from 2015 to March 31, 2019.

Ademola Ajayi – Chief Compliance Officer

Ademola Ajayi is the chief compliance officer of Titan Trust Bank Limited. He holds Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting (First Class Honours) from Babcock University, Ilishan Ogun State. He also holds Higher National Diploma in accounting with Upper credits class from the Polytechnic, Ibadan. He is a fellow (FCA) of the Institute of Chartered Accountant of Nigeria (ICAN). He is also an Associate of Compliance Institute of Nigeria (CIN). He is a Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) registered Compliance Officer and a registered professional of Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN). Internationally, he is a Certified Compliance Officer (CCO) and Certified Fraud and Crime; Investigation and Prevention by GAFM USA. He is also a fellow of GAFM USA.

He has been in the Nigerian Banking Sector since 1996, well over 2 decades, with experience cutting across financial control, credit review and monitoring, business development, banking operations, internal controls, internal audit, inspection and compliance functions. His career in banking started in NAL Merchant Bank, where he did the mandatory one year national youth service. Immediately after his service year, he was recruited by Zenith Bank, where he performed creditably well in banking operations generally, controls and risk management related functions, and later with specific focus on compliance risk management role. He played a key role in setting up compliance department in Zenith Bank and took same to an enviable height. Ademola AJAYI is a team player, and will positively impact any team he finds himself. He has attended compliance trainings, locally and internationally. He is also a competent trainer on compliance matters.

George Aiyudu – Head of IT

George is a certified COBIT implementer with over 21 years banking experience covering Banking Operations, International Operations and Information Technology.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and also holds a Masters Degree in Business Information Systems. He was the Group Head, IT Change and Transformation at Diamond Bank.

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Ibom Air begins commercial operations on Friday

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Ibom Air, the first commercial airline to be owned and operated by a state government in Nigeria and Africa, will begin full commercial operations on June 7, an official said.

Ekerete Udoh, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Udom Emmanuel, made this known in a statement on Thursday.

Mr Udoh said that the airline, having fulfilled all the regulatory conditions and requirements, was certified fit to commence commercial operations, leading to the maiden flight billed for tomorrow, June 7th.

“It will maintain regular daily flights to both Lagos (MMA2) and Abuja respectively.

“The aircrafts in its fleet (Bombardier CRJ 900) have the distinction of being relatively new, all three, under 10 years old,” Mr Udoh said.

He said the commencement of the commercial operations by Ibom Air had been celebrated by Akwa Ibomites and other Nigerians as a testament to the visionary leadership of Mr Emmanuel.

“The governor who seems determined to break conventional wisdom concerning things long thought to be impossible to achieve,” he said.

He noted that the development was Gov. Emmanuel’s avowed determination to open the three gateways to industrialisation-land, sea and air appears to be on course.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalled that Ibom Airline which represents one of the signature projects Mr Emmanuel’s First Term.

The Ibom Air was launched on February 20 with three aircrafts by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.

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Peterside: Nigeria will soon export crude with its national fleet

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Dakuku Peterside, director general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), says the country will be able to lift its own crude for export immediately the national fleet begins operation.

Speaking at a media breakfast meeting on the sidelines of the ongoing Nor-Shipping Conference and Exhibition in Oslo, Norway, Dakuku said this move will bring an end to the present arrangement where Nigeria sells its oil on free on board basis to customers.

A statement by Isichei Osamgbi, NIMASA’s head of corporate communications, quoted the DG to have said that the new national fleet will be owned 49% by a technical partner and the balance of 51% by Nigerian investors.

According to the plan, the Nigerian investors will hold equity in lots, so there will be no domineering shareholder.

The former lawmaker said the government has also acquired security assets to boost the policing of its waters.

These assets, which include patrol boats, helicopter, unmanned air vessels and naval ships, were acquired under the ‘Deep Blue Project’ that will be operational by September.

Peterside urged investors to tap into the potentials of the maritime sector in Nigeria saying the government has incentivised the sector with offers of tax holidays and institutional support.

He said Nigeria accounts for 70% of seaborne trade into West Africa and is endowed with the world’s ninth largest hydrocarbon deposits.

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