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Nigerian banks: Access – new kid on the block

Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Access’s CEO
Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Access’s CEO

More than any other of the big five – and in stark contrast to some banks in Lagos – the entry hall of Access’s headquarters has a welcoming and upbeat feel. It is, perhaps, partly because this is the newest institution to enter the top tier of Nigerian banks. Access’s ability to stay in the top five by assets will be largely dependent on the success of its acquisition last year of Intercontinental, which before the 2009 bailouts was Nigeria’s sixth-biggest bank. The fact that Access’s executives have been able to move into Intercontinental’s headquarters might be cause for hope.

Of the nine banks the central bank auctioned after the crisis, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Access’s CEO, picked Intercontinental – which he says had good beginnings – because he thought their cultures could mesh. "We found Intercontinental would be least difficult to work with in getting them to understand the Access way of doing things," he says.

Like Access, Intercontinental was one of the newer, post-liberalization banks. Like Access, it was set up by a banker, rather than a family conglomerate (which was the case with Oceanic, sold to Ecobank in the central bank auction – Ecobank retains its existing Lagos headquarters).

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