Access Bank Plc, one of Nigeria’s top commercial banks, has successfully completed necessary negotiations for a move to acquire the sub-Saharan subsidiaries of Standard Chartered Bank for an undisclosed fee.
Standard Chartered will sell off its stake in subsidiaries across Angola, Cameroon, Gambia, and Sierra Leone to Access Bank. Access Bank will also acquire Standard Chartered’s consumer, private, and business banking business in Tanzania.
This development was made public today at Standard Chartered’s Headquarters in London and was headlined by, Sunil Kaushal, Regional CEO, Africa & Middle East, Standard Chartered, as well as Roosevelt Ogbonna, Group Managing Director, Access Bank Plc.
The acquisition, which excludes Standard Chartered’s Nigerian subsidiary, aligns with the UK bank’s strategy to divest its businesses in Africa and focus on faster-growing markets in the region.
Standard Chartered’s decision to exit these countries in Africa and the Middle East is aimed at enhancing profitability. The bank plans to redirect resources within the region to areas with significant growth potential. The transaction is however yet to receive full regulatory approvals in all five countries involved but is expected to be completed within the next 12 months.
“Access Bank will provide a full range of banking services and continuity for key stakeholders including employees and clients of Standard Chartered’s businesses across the five aforementioned countries,” Standard Chartered said in an official statement.
Access Bank, on the other hand, sees this acquisition as an opportunity to strengthen its global presence and act as a gateway for payments, investment, and trade within and outside Africa.
Roosevelt Ogbonna, the Managing Director of Access Group, expressed enthusiasm about the deal, highlighting that Access Bank’s recent expansion in Europe and deepened presence in key trading corridors across Africa will facilitate cross-border and domestic transfers across all business segments.
The acquisition positions Access Bank, already Nigeria’s largest bank by assets, as a prominent player in the African banking landscape and is expected to significantly increase its value.
This development reflects a larger trend of European banks withdrawing from African markets. Atlas Mara exited seven African markets in October 2021, followed by Credit Suisse in February 2022, and BNP Paribas reducing its African footprint in the same month. European banks commonly cite the high-risk and low-yielding nature of retail banking in Africa as a reason for their retreat. However, the impact of these exits on native African banks, such as those in Nigeria, remains to be seen, as their stock prices continue to rise.