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Access Bank fails to double profits in H1 2023, despite 52% growth

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Access Bank’s profits grew 52% in the first half of 2023. But it failed to double its profit like its peers.

Access Holdings Plc posted profits of ₦135 billion in the first half of 2023. That’s a 52% jump compared to the half year of 2022, according to the bank’s half-year financial statements. Compared to other tier-1 banks like First Bank, GTCO, and Zenith who doubled their profits in the same period, and tier-2 banks like Fidelity and Stanbic, Access Holdings results are not exactly impressive. GTCO recorded ₦280 billion in H1 2023 as profits from ₦77 billion in June 2022. First Bank recorded ₦187 billion from ₦56 billion in June 2022. Zenith Bank recorded ₦291 billion in H1 2023 as profits from ₦111 billion in June 2022. Fidelity recorded ₦61 billion from ₦23 billion in June 2022 while Stanbic recorded ₦67 billion from ₦30 billion in June 2022.

Blessing or curse?

Access Holdings has been in an acquisition spree for more than a year now, trying to deepen its reach across the continent. In May, the lender received regulatory approval from the Central Bank of Angola to proceed with the purchase of a majority stake in Finibanco Angola. In July, it acquired the sub-Saharan subsidiaries of Standard Chartered Bank for an undisclosed sum. On its balance sheet, those acquisitions seem like a curse and blessing. Between December 2022 and June 2023, both Access Holdings’ total assets and total liabilities have surged 39%. Its total assets is ₦20 trillion in June 2023, from ₦14 trillion in December 2022, less than six months. 

The liabilities are following closely behind, as it currently stands at ₦19 trillion in June 2023 from ₦13 trillion, six months ago. This has made  the bank vulnerable to credit risk exposures. For instance, its loans and advances grew to ₦6.7 trillion in June 2023, as against ₦5.1 trillion recorded in December 2022. A note from the bank said the directors are confident in their ability to continue to control exposure to credit risk which can result from both its loans and advances portfolio and debt securities.

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The Ghana problem

But that is not all. Currently, the Ghanaian government is struggling with  bankruptcy over failure to pay billions of dollars it owes to international creditors in December. Access Holdings is one of the government’s creditors as Ghana’s sovereign debt has impacted the bank’s position. “The fair value for Ghana sovereign debts in the books of the Access Holdings amounts to ₦615.18 billion (December 2022: ₦348.15 billion),” the note read in the lender’s financials.

Nonetheless, Access Bank has demonstrated growth in its corporate and investment banking drive which creates the bulk of its revenue, growing almost double to ₦469 billion in June 2023 from ₦266 billion in June 2022. Its net fee and commission income grew 59% to ₦88 billion in June 2023. Similarly, its net interest income was up 14% in H1 2023.

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