BY CHARLES ABUEDE
In what would seem like a rebalancing of its portfolio following the 100 percent share capital acquisition of Access Pension Fund by First Pension Custodians on Wednesday, Access Holdings said it has now acquired a majority equity stake in First Guarantee pension Limited after both parties entered a definitive agreement regarding the potential acquisition. The move is also expected to expand the revenue streams of the banking heavyweight.
Access Holdings, in a disclosure filed to the Nigerian Exchange, said the transaction is a consequential step in the corporation’s evolution from a narrow banking business into a financial service holding company that is positioned to gain relevant scale across Africa, global monetary centres and beyond-banking verticals.
First Guarantee Pension Limited was established in 2004 as a limited liability company with a vision to becoming the first choice pension fund administrator (PFA) in Nigeria reputed for real wealth creation and excellent customer service through consistently superior and sustained return on investment to all stakeholders. Some internal issues bothering on corporate governance had led to the wading in of industry regulator, National Pension Commission (PenCom).
Business A.M. understands that National Pension Commission (PenCom) took over the managerial affairs of First Guarantee Pension in August 2011 by setting up an interim management committee to pilot the company’s affairs owing to incessant shareholders squabbles and several issues of adverse corporate governance in the PFA. The lingering squabbles led to the regulator’s action based on the powers conferred on it by the Pension Reform Act 2004 (PRA 2004) and in the exercise of its statutory mandate of protecting the pension fund and assets.
Herbert Wigwe, chief executive officer, Access Corporation, in his comments on the landmark transaction by the banking heavyweight, said the deal is in line with the ambitious plans of the organisation to become the major provider of financial services in Africa. The helmsman of the leading lender said the banking corporation wants the lion’s share of the PFA because it has the structures and a track record to deliver superb services to customers with cutting-edge technology, tested and trusted corporate governance and high standards of professionalism.
Quoting him in a statement signed by Sunday Ekwochi, the company secretary, Wigwe said: “This transaction is a natural evolution for us. Over the last 20 years, we set our sights on and delivered ambitious plans to transform the African financial services landscape focusing on banking and have created the Africa leading bank and the largest bank by customer base.
“The large customer base both on the wholesale and retail segments makes the pension business a natural fit for the corporation given its objective of ecosystem optimisation. “We will leverage our well-established culture of strong corporate governance, risk management, cutting-edge technology and digital capabilities to deliver high standards of professionalism of pension assets to the benefits of our stakeholders,” he asserted.