Rebranding Access Bank after mergers and acquisitions in the banking industry series 1

Brand new Access Bank with 30 years Operational history


Briefly; Access Bank plc, commonly known as Access Bank, is a Nigerian multinational commercial bank, owned by Access Bank Group. It is licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, the national banking regulator. Originally a corporate bank, the organization acquired personal and business banking platforms from Nigeria’s International Commercial bank in 2012.

Access Bank is presently one of the five largest banks in Nigeria in terms of assets, loans, deposits and branch network. The merger of Access Bank and Diamond Bank on 1st April 2019 has made Access Bank the largest bank in Africa. By record, its merger with Diamond Bank, Access Bank Plc, unveiled its new logo, signaling the commencement of a new enlarged banking entity.


Access Bank Plc with corporate headquarters in Victoria Island of Lagos state, Nigeria Research showed Access Bank plc as a large financial-services provider with an asset base in excess of US$12.2 billion (NGN:2.412 trillion), and shareholders’ equity valued at approximately US$1.86 billion (NGN:367.8 billion) in December 2015. As of December 2015, Access Bank plc had subsidiaries in eight Sub-Saharan African countries and the United Kingdom.


Historical records shown that the Access bank received its license from the Central Bank of Nigeria in 1989 and in 1998, listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (The NSE) which is ten years later


In 2002: Access Bank was taken over by a core of new management led by Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede and Herbert Wigwe.


Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede is a business person who has been the head of 6 different companies was born on 24 September 1966 in Ibadan, Oyo State in Western Nigeria to parents who were in the civil service

Mr. Aig-Imoukhuede received a graduate degree from the University of Benin and a graduate degree from Nigerian Law School.

In his past he occupied the position of Group Managing Director at Access Bank Plc, Chairman of Intercontinental Bank Plc and Chairman for The Access Bank UK Ltd. (both are subsidiaries of Access Bank Plc).


He began working as a lawyer with Continental Merchant Bank during his NYSC year in 1986. Aigboje started his banking career at Guaranty Trust Bank Plc where he resigned as Executive Director in March 2002. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede was the leader of the 2002 acquisition of Access Bank, then a fringe regional player. He was the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Bank till December 2013. He retired as President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 2017, but he remains on the National Council as an Ex-Officio. He was a Non Executive Director of Africa Finance Corporation since 2008 until June 2, 2017. He has been the Chairman of Associated Discount House Limited since December 1, 2011. He serves as a Director of Petralon Energy and also serves as the Chairman of Wapic Insurance Plc and has been its Director since November 2011. Aig-Imoukhuede also served as Board Chairman and Director of FMDQ OTC PLC until August 1, 2014

Herbert Wigwe, currently, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank has created a pivotal role of success story of Nigeria’s banking sector for history lessons. Though there may be fictional stories about him, but his true life story is a must-read for anyone interested in Nigeria and Africa’s banking industry.

Born 1966 year ago in Ibadan, Oyo State, Wigwe’s impressive pedigree is known to industry watchers, just as his humble lifestyle is not strange to those who are familiar with him.

With his 53th birthday just around the corner, precisely August 15, Wigwe is one business leader, whose deftness and ingenuity are legendary but does not like the spotlight.

He and Access Bank under his leadership since over a decade, has been receiving recognition or praise for good reasons.

Under Wigwe’s watch, Access Bank has risen to become one of the “top five banks in Nigeria” and “ranked among the top 500 global banks in the world”, according to a-2015 The Banker Magazine report.

In just two years of leading a pack of industry-defining banking professionals inspired to consistently create shareholders value, Herbert Wigwe’s visionary leadership has cemented the exemplary strides of the former Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede.

In the first quarter of 2016, Access Bank recorded a profit rise of 42percent, a feat Wigwe, a team-player, owed to the bank’s ‘ever-trusting shareholders, formidable board of directors and employees’.

The Harvard alumnus, a stickler for best practices and using industry standards to produce awesome and robust results, recently received the award for Outstanding Business Sustainability at the 2016 Karlsruhe Sustainable Finance Award in Germany on behalf of the bank for holistically embedding sustainability across its operations.

He said at the occasion: “Access Bank operations and activities at this time is a reflection of the vision of its founding fathers. Like my predecessor, I have a duty to steer the affairs of this bank in a manner that promotes societal good and interest. Our business model encourages us to become that catalyst for the change Africa seeks.”

The bank has continued to attract international commendations and awards. Among them is the 2016 ‘Africa’s Best Bank Transformation’ in the Euromoney 2016 Awards for Excellence.

Personally, Herbert Wigwe is giving back to the society through his personal foundation, HOW Foundation. Recently he conducted malaria test on and donated mosquito nets to 1,000 people in Otuokpo, River State.

One of Herbert Wigwe’s How Foundation’s aims is to give a new lease of life to orphaned and vulnerable children in the society

In 2005: Access Bank acquired Marina Bank and Capital Bank (formerly commercial bank Crédit Lyonnais Nigeria) by merger and by 2007 established a subsidiary in Banjul, The Gambia. As at today the bank now has a head office and four branches, and the bank has pledged to open another four branches.

Six years later: in 2008, Access Bank acquired 88% of the shares of Omnifinance Bank, which was established in 1996. It also acquired 90% of Banque Privée du Congo, which South African investors had established in 2002. The bank went ahead to acquired 75% of the shares of Bancor SA, in Rwanda. Bancor had been established in 1995 and reorganized in 2001. In September, the Bank opened a subsidiary in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and then in October, the bank opened subsidiaries in Lusaka, Zambia and in London, United Kingdom and while Finbank (Burundi) joined the Access Bank network but exited the group in 2014.


Three years later, in 2011: Access Bank talks with the Central Bank of Nigeria to acquire Intercontinental Bank plc and that is how Intercontinental Bank became a subsidiary of Access Bank plc, which recapitalized the former and acquired a 75% majority interest in its stock. By the combined effect of the restoration of Net Asset Value (NAV) to zero by AMCON and N50billion capital injection by Access Bank plc is that Intercontinental Bank now operates as a well-capitalized bank, with shareholders funds of N50billion and Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) of 24%, well above the 10% regulatory threshold.


By January 2012: Access Bank announced the conclusion of its acquisition of the former Intercontinental Bank, creating an expanded Access Bank, one of the largest four commercial banks in Nigeria with over 5.7 million customers, 309 branches and over 1,600 Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).


Here comes the latest one, just last year 2018: to be specific in December 2018, Access Bank PLC announced the acquisition of Diamond Bank, the board of Diamond Bank affirmed that her merger with Access Bank Plc expected to be completed in first half of 2019. Access bank with history of over fourteen (14) acquisitions track records did not wait till June as earlier agreed both but ended the deal in April.


As it is today, access bank with 400 branches plus 277 branches of the defunct Diamond Bank, stood at 677 total numbers of branches under the new Access Bank plc going forward.


According to report, Access Bank plans to leverage the best talent of both banks and combine them to create a leading banking franchise in Nigeria. The combined bank will be led by Access Bank’s current CEO, Herbert Wigwe, and will retain the Access Bank name. It is intended that the brand will be redesigned to include strong elements of Diamond Bank’s digital and retail brand.

Furthermore, Access Bank has a strong track record of M&A in Nigerian banking and has previously demonstrated its integration capabilities in the successful acquisition and subsequent absorption of six institutions in the past 15 years. The same team who led this successful integration will be responsible for delivering the merger with Diamond Bank and overseeing the transition to the enlarged entity.


When examine how international banking groups manage their branding in the context of successive mergers and acquisitions. It seeks to review of a number of case histories in order to show that banking companies tend to evolve a multi-tiered system for absorbing and rebranding acquisitions and it also seeks to present a general framework to guide future practice and occurrence.


The banking industry has been undergoing major consolidation in recent years, including a number of global players emerging through successive mergers and acquisitions. All these transactions vary in scale and location, from major mergers of large, equal-sized international entities to acquisitions of smaller, local businesses in various countries all around the world.


Sometimes mergers and acquisitions, which mostly comes from economics and finance, with the marketing communication strategies of branding and rebranding message, to create a framework to help stakeholders to understand the management challenge of rebranding bank brands.


Analysis suggests that the branding problem varies according to the size and international status of the acquisitive bank. Very large banks with international brands such as Access Bank plc tend to follow a branded house strategy where they impose their master brand on all acquisitions resulting in a further enhancement of scale and brand strength. However, this general strategy conceals a more complex, multi-tiered approach with different types and sizes of acquisitions being rebranded in different ways. Regional players such as Diamond bank may have tend to opt for a house of brands strategy where their acquired companies retain their own name and brand franchise in local markets.



Most banking companies nowadays become involved in mergers and acquisitions at some stage, and face the task of realigning their brands in the aftermath of these transactions.


Rebranding in the banking industry following Access Bank mergers and Acquisitions of Diamond Bank recently has seeks to review of a number of case histories of successive mergers and acquisitions by Access Bank plc in order to show that banking companies tend to evolve a multi-tiered system for absorbing and rebranding acquisitions.


Defining brand, branding and rebranding


There are many meaning to brand, branding and rebranding in the marketing terms, but all converge around the idea that a Brand is a unique name that identifies a product or service, and differentiates it from competitors. In its dictionary of marketing terms by the American Marketing Association that a brand is “a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers” and Branding is the process of giving a meaning to specific company’s products or services by creating, establish and shaping a brand in consumers’ minds. It is a strategy designed by company to help people to quickly identify their products and organization, and give them a reason to choose their products over the competition’s, by clarifying what this particular brand is or is not. While Rebranding stands as the creation of a new name, term, symbol, design or a combination of them for an established brand with the intention of developing a new identity, differentiated position in the mind of stakeholders and competitors including the user.


Rebranding can occur at three distinct levels in an organisation:

(1) Corporate;

(2) Strategic business unit; and

(3) Product or services level.


Corporate rebranding refers to the renaming of a whole corporate entity, often signifying a major strategic change or repositioning. Each of these moves reflects a different strategy emanating from a particular set of circumstances, the nature of M &A scheme.


Rebranding of strategic business units within large corporations is the second category. This refers to a situation where a subsidiary or division within a larger corporation is given a unique name to create a distinct identity separate from the parent. Access Bank decision to use the Merchant Bank brand for its private client business is a case in point with distinctive new names given to their internet banking subsidiaries.

Rebranding of individual products also occurs, sometimes as a tactical move driven by the desire to brand globally, to derive economies of scale in marketing communications and to benefit from spillovers in brand awareness across the board.


A variation on this idea is when corporations choose to sell third-party products under the supplier company’s name or selling products or services of another company under yours, etc. Affinity brands are a variation on this category, with banks providing products under retailers’ names such as bank supplying visa credit cards, and co-branding product or services online bank


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