First Bank MD’s thoughts on the Access/Diamond Merger

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Managing Director/CEO of First Bank of Nigeria Adesola Adeduntan sees the merger plans between Access Bank and Diamond Bank Plc as a welcome development.

The move in his view is part of a consolidation wave that has taken place in the last ten years.

“WE HAVE HAD TWO WAVES OF CONSOLIDATION IN THE MARKET. THE FIRST WAS IN 2004-2005 WHICH WAS ORCHESTRATED BY PROFESSOR CHUKUMA SOLUDO. THE SECOND WAVE HAPPENED BETWEEN 2009 UNDER GOVERNOR LAMIDO SANUSI WHICH WAS WHAT SAW TO THE ACQUISITION OF INTERCONTINENTAL BANK BY ACCESS BANK.”

“FOR OPERATORS LIKE US WHO HAVE BEEN WATCHING THIS STRATEGIC LANDSCAPE, IT WAS NOT UNEXPECTED. FOR BANKS AND INDEED ANY INSTITUTION OR ANY BUSINESS VENTURE, YOU DO HAVE TWO OPPORTUNITIES OR TWO KEY OPTIONS OF GROWTH. YOU CAN DECIDE TO GROW ORGANICALLY OR YOU CAN DECIDE TO GROW INORGANICALLY, WHICH IS WHAT ACCESS BANK IS DOING”

Consolidations like this in his view are also welcome because Nigerian banks are small from a continental perspective.

“WHEN YOU PUT THEM (FIRSTBANK, GTBANK, ACCESS BANK, ZENITH BANK AND THE UNITED BANK FOR AFRICA) ON AN AFRICAN LANDSCAPE, OUR BANKS ARE ACTUALLY QUITE SMALL. THAT IS THE TRUTH.

“IN FACT, FROM THE LAST STATISTICS I REVIEWED, THERE WAS NO NIGERIAN BANK IN THE TOP 10 BANKS IN AFRICA. WHEN YOU THEN REALISE THE FACT THAT NIGERIA HAS THE LARGEST ECONOMY IN AFRICA, BUT WE ARE NOT IN THE TOP TEN BANKS, THAT TELLS YOU TWO THINGS: FIRSTLY, THAT THERE IS A SIGNIFICANT OPPORTUNITY FOR GROWTH FOR BANKS BUT SECONDLY OPPORTUNITIES FOR FURTHER CONSOLIDATION”

Adeduntun added that there are banks that have perfected the act of growing organically, while there are banks that prefer and take advantage of the inorganic method such as Access Bank.

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