Mr. Herbert Wigwe,Group Managing Director/CEO, Access Bank Plc.

Access Bank has released its first earnings report after its merger with Diamond Bank, showing 62 per cent growth in profit before tax in the first six months of this year. The board has approved payment of N8.89 billion as interim dividend to shareholders, equivalent 25kobo per share.

Key extracts of the audited report and accounts for the six-month report ended June 30, 2019 showed that gross earnings rose by 28 per cent to N324.4 billion in first half 2019 compared with N253.0 billion recorded in corresponding period of last year. The top-line growth was driven by 46 per cent increase in interest income on the back of continued growth in the bank’s core business and 22 per cent growth in non-interest income underlined by strong recoveries.

The Nation reports that the operating income grew by 34 per cent to N202.3 billion in first half 2019 as against N151.4 billion in comparable period of 2018. Profit before Tax rose from N45.8 billion to N74.1 billion, representing an increase of 62 per cent. Profit after tax rose correspondingly from N39.6 billion in first half of last year to N63.01 billion in first half of the year.

The balance sheet size expanded by 31 per cent as total assets increased to N6.48 trillion by June, this year compared with N4.95 trillion reported by December 2018. Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) stood at 20.8 per cent, considerably above the minimum regulatory requirement.

Group Managing Director, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe said the bank’s performance in the first half of the year reflected its sustainable business model and effective execution as the bank made strong gains towards the achievement of its strategic goals.

He said the bank’s focus on retail gained momentum during the period as continued investments in its channels platform resulted in a 29 per cent contribution to gross fee and commission income, which rose by 92 per cent when compared with the previous period.

According to him, the strong retail contribution demonstrates the effectiveness of the bank’s continued drive around low-cost deposits, on the back of an innovative digital platform.

He pointed out that asset quality improved as earlier indicated to 6.4 per cent on the bank of a robust risk management approach, assuring that the improvement in asset quality is expected to trend into the future as the bank strives to hit and surpass the standard it had built in the industry prior to the merger.

He added that the bank’s liquidity ratio improved year-on-year to 49.7 per cent, reflecting deliberate steps to optimise balance sheet in order to ensure the group’s liquidity position remains robust.

“Going into the second half of the year, our focus is on consolidating momentum and driving access to financial inclusion through our various agency initiatives. Additionally, we will remain disciplined in our efforts to deliver enhanced shareholder value, as we continue to realise the synergies from our newly expanded franchise,” Wigwe said.

Analysts at Cordros Securities described the results as impressive pointing out that the bank recorded strong growth in both gross earnings and profitability. The strong performance was underpinned by funded income growth, with non-funded income underperforming the prior year.

According to analysts, the macro-prudential ratios for the bank remained strong, with the exception of non-performing loan ratio of 6.4 per cent, which remains above the statutory level but has trended downward from the 10.0 per cent recorded in first quarter of the year.
Analysts said while the bank has significant headroom to drive growth given the macro-prudential ratios, they expect more focus on the remediation to bring non-performing loan ratios downward.

“So far so good, it seems for the bank, as the numbers seem to show no signs, as of yet, of synergistic issues. The performance is strong, and the improvement in non-performing loans is positive. However, we seek clarity as to the driver of the moderation to gauge the sustainability. Nonetheless, at the current run-rate, the bank is on course to record a strong full year 2019 performance.

The first half report built on a strong first quarter. Key extracts for the three-month period ended March 31, 2019 showed that gross earnings rose by 16.5 per cent to N160.12 billion in first quarter 2019 as against N137.54 billion in first quarter 2018.

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