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17.02.2009 Business & Finance

Access Bank starts operation in April

By Daily Guide

Barring any unforeseen hitch, Access Bank Plc, one of the largest banks in Nigeria, would start operations in Ghana by April this year.

While a source tells CITY & BUSINESS GUIDE that the bank has acquired an edifice at La near the Palm Wine Junction for its corporate head office, another source says the bank is considering siting its business office in the strategic Ridge enclave which houses a number of corporate business offices including UBA, Fidelity Bank, MTN and Ecobank Ghana.

The paper also gathers that Obeahon Ohiwerei, former Managing Director of then Standard Trust Bank Ghana, now UBA Ghana, is leading a team of financial gurus to kick-start the bank's operations in the country.

Mr. Ohiwerei, an Executive Director of Access Bank and now the Regional Head of the bank according to this paper's information, has been tasked to build a bank which will compete vigorously with its competitors and become a leading financial institution in Ghana within the next two years.

Mr. Ohiwerei was driving the fortunes of UBA Ghana until he exited the bank in 2007.

Access has already paid $100 million, far more than the $60 million minimum capital requirement, to the Bank of Ghana. It got an Approval-In-Principle or provisional licence in the mid-half of last year and this mandates it to acquire offices, recruit staff and train them among others.

The bank commenced operations in Sierra Leone in July last year and is hoping to replicate gains chalked in that country plus countries such as Rwanda, Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo in Ghana.

Chie Executive Officer of Access Bank Plc, Chief Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede said his outfit will only realize its true value when it gains financial dominance globally and that is what Access Bank is working to achieve.

He explained that the bank has gained popularity for being the most innovative bank in Africa and pledged to showcase professionalism and compliance wherever it operates.

The bank which has a presence in the UK and other African countries acquired a 51 percent stake in Horizon Leasing Finance Company.

One of the largest banks in Nigeria is being motivated by the impressive gains chalked so far by its peers in Ghana as well as the stable political and socio-economic environment.

The presence of the bank will increase the number of universal banks in the country to 27, from the present 26. Indian bank, Bank of Baroda and Afro-Arabian bank, Sahel Bank joined the league of banks in Ghana last year.

It will be recalled that CITY & BUSNESS GUIDE broke the exclusive news that Access Bank plus Bank BHP of Nigeria and Islamic Bank were considering setting up subsidiaries in Ghana.

The presence of Access Bank would add impetus to the already tough market and intensify efforts of mergers and acquisitions by banks.

Information is also rife that the bank is set to maintain a huge capital adequacy level which will put them in pole position to control all the huge transactions that will come into the country.