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Access Bank, Intercontinental merger wins M&A award

The merger deal between Access Bank and the defunct Intercontinental Bank in 2011 has been adjudged Africa’s top merger and acquisition (M&A) deal by the Banker Magazine.

The magazine, a member of the Financial Times stable of publications, therefore selected Access Bank and Intercontinental Bank deal as the “2012 Mergers and Acquisitions Deal of the Year” for Africa.

Access Bank was the first to embark on a seamless acquisition of Intercontinental Bank following the approval by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the bank and others to be sold to save depositors of their investments. Intercontinental Bank has since been integrated into the bank making Access Bank to emerge top five banks in the country.

The Banker’s Deals of the Year Awards celebrate the most impressive transactions in capital raising, M&A Corporate and SSA bonds, infrastructure and project finance, loans, structured finance, equities, restructuring, Islamic finance and this year a newly added trade finance category.

Many deals were undertaken in very difficult market conditions, while banks from emerging markets are noticeably playing a larger role in the top transaction in their countries.

Indeed, the takeover of Intercontinental Bank by Access Bank last year was a product of Nigeria’s 2009 banking crisis. Intercontinental Bank, one of the country’s biggest lenders, was among the 10 to fail stress-test carried out by CBN in the latter half of the year. The bank, like the other nine, was forced to accept capital from the government and was given two years to recapitalise further to the extent that it could stand on its own feet.

Many banks initially lined up to buy Intercontinental Bank Plc, hoping to get their hands on the lender’s large branch networks and asset base to establish themselves among the biggest players in Nigeria. However, Access Bank Plc, already a large lender in Nigeria, emerged victorious.

Consequently, the acquisition has substantially changed the face of the Nigeria banking sector as Access Bank now entered into the top tier, which previously comprised First Bank, Zenith Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank (GT Bank) and United Bank for Africa, (UBA). The big four has now become the big 5: Access Bank has risen to become the third largest Nigerian bank by assets. Access Bank’s acquisition has increased competition in the already fierce retail market in Nigeria and could well drive down costs for consumers.

Also commended in The Bankers’ Deals of the Year Award for 2012 is the Access Bank led Delta State government N50 billion bond in the Bond of The Year Category won by Namibia’s $500 million Deal. Namibia became the latest of a growing list of Africans sovereigns to issue an international bond when it sold $500 million of paper in late October 2011. The 10-year transaction followed a debut Eurobond from Nigeria and Senegal’s first benchmark-sized deal, both of which took place in the first half of 2011.

In this award category, the Access Bank-led Delta State N50 billion ($317) 14% seven-year bond in September 2011 was a major contender. The transaction, which was the first tranche of a-N100 billion bond programme and the biggest launched by a Nigerian state, will be used to help the state build infrastructure and ensure it generates majority of its revenues internally, rather than having to rely on the Federal Government.

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