Access Bank?s leadership position on the African financial services landscape has been validated by recent upgrade of its ratings by reputable international and domestic rating agencies: S&P (Standard and Poor?s), Fitch Ratings and Augusto & Co.
This upgrade is attributable to the Bank?s improved market position, strong capitalisation, strong liquidity profile, and enhanced distribution network and client base.
Fitch, an international rating agency based in the UK, has upgraded the Bank’s Long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to ?B? from ?B-?while the Bank?s National Long-term rating was upgraded to ‘A-(nga)’ from ‘BBB-(nga)’. In the same vein, Agusto & Co, Nigeria?s leading rating agency, has upgraded its ‘BBB’ rating of Access Bank Plc to ‘A-.
Interestingly, this is coming on the heels of a recent upgrade of the Bank’s long-term Nigeria national-scale rating to ‘ngA’ from ‘ngA-‘ with its outlook raised from ‘negative’ to ‘stable’ by another UK based rating agency, S&P (Standard and Poor?s).
According to Agusto’s 2012 Bank Rating Report, “the ‘A-‘rating implies that Access Bank is of good financial condition and strong capacity to meet its obligations”. It added that “Access Bank’s funding has been strengthened by an enlarged branch network following consolidation, which has availed the Bank a vast pool of low-cost deposit.?
Further, the report stated that ?In the year under review, local currency deposits grew by 114% to N871billion. Deposits adequately funded the loan book and Access Bank?s liquidity ratio stood at 74% as at December 31, 2011 — well above the regulatory minimum of 30%?.
Similar to S&P?s opinion, Access Bank?s improved rating is attributable to its strong liquidity and funding position, which is a clear affirmation of its position as one of Nigeria?s tier 1 Banks and corroborated by its enhanced capacity to execute larger transactions as well as access long-term funding from foreign multilateral agencies and institutions.
Access Bank?s acquisition of Intercontinental Bank has significantly altered the ranking of top-4 Banks in Nigeria, by strengthening its capacity and capability to challenge the market dominance of former industry-leading Banks. Firmly positioned amongst top-4 Banks in Nigeria, Access Bank is efficiently leveraging its expanded customer base, branch network and excellent management to define its market leadership.
This statement is corroborated by Fitch Ratings, which attributed its upgrade of the Bank?s ratings to its increased systemic importance and enhanced franchise following its absorption of Intercontinental Bank Plc.
Specifically, the Bank?s management has remained committed to best practice in the areas of corporate governance and risk management. By this, it intends to extract maximum value from the acquisition and maintain its industry leadership.