It is ‘bases loaded’ at BancABC - MD

The MD chooses softball terminology that describes the position of the offensive team when it has runners on 1st, 2nd and 3rd base ready for the homerun as a parallel for the acquisition of BancABC by Access Bank and a whole cornucopia of benefits that will flow from the transaction, among them enhanced security of jobs and customers’ accounts. Best-in-class digital platforms and more product suites are a part of the deal. He spoke to Staff Writer KITSO DICKSON

It is ‘bases loaded’ at BancABC - MD
Bank ABC Botswana’s managing Director Kgotso Bannalotlhe (Pic: MONIRUL BHUIYAN/PRESS PHOTO)

Q: Last week, Atlas Mara Limited, ABC Holdings Limited and Access Bank Plc announced that they had entered into a definitive agreement for acquisition of 78.15 percent of the issued share capital of African Banking Corporation of Botswana Limited (BancABC Botswana) by Access Bank. The Bank of Botswana has approved the transaction which will result in effective transfer of the strategic ownership and controlling interest of BancABC to Access Bank, a pan-African bank headquartered in Nigeria. What will BancABC get out of this transaction?

A: BancABC recognises the value that Access Bank will offer BancABC Botswana and is confident that all stakeholders, including employees, customers and remaining shareholders will also recognise the envisaged value.

Access Bank has a strong track record which will provide BancABC significant scope for revenue diversification and growth in the corporate and SME banking segment. In addition, BancABC Botswana’s customers will benefit from best-in-class digital platforms and product suites given Access Bank’s group IT infrastructure.

Q: What specifically will BancABC derive from a bank with operations and representation in a number of jurisdictions in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East?

A: In the long term, this represents the beginning of an exciting new journey for BancABC Botswana to become part of one of Africa’s largest banking groups, which is Number One by customer base with over 40 million customers. This journey will include building upon BancABC Botswana’s strong retail banking operations and achievements in digital banking adoption and adding further expansion into corporate and SME lending.

Additionally, Access Bank will bring complementary best-in-class digital platforms and product suites that it has been leveraging across 12 countries, namely Nigeria, Zambia, Ghana, Congo, Rwanda, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Mozambique and South Africa, Guinea and the United Kingdom, to enhance the bank’s digital capabilities, increase market share and bolster its ability to continue to deliver sustainable returns.

Overall, customers will have increased access to products and services through a best-in-class digital platform and a branch network spanning most of the country.

Q: What motivated Access Bank to acquire BancABC?

A: Botswana is renowned for its quality sovereign credit rating and stability and Access Bank’s market entry will enable it to further solidify its strategy as a strong banking partner in key verticals across retail and corporate banking, including especially supporting trade and payments across southern Africa and sub-Saharan Africa more broadly.

BancABC Botswana is the fifth largest bank in Botswana and is a very well-capitalised banking institution poised for growth and success in its local market. The bank has been perennially profitable, given its existing high-quality retail loan book with opportunities and scope for diversification and further expansion into corporate and SME lending. Botswana’s achievements in digital banking adoption also provide an opportunity for Access Bank to optimise its best-in-class digital platforms and product suites to the benefit of BancABC Botswana’s customers.

Q: As you’ve mentioned, BancABC is fifth largest in the country and is more profitable than ever. What reasons has Atlas Mara advanced for selling a business which seems to be doing well in Botswana? Is there something we don’t know?

A: As part of the Atlas Mara overall and ongoing strategic review announced on the London Stock Exchange, Atlas Mara considered various options, including this unique opportunity to bring in a new world-class partner for Botswana, its people and economy while realising value for its ownership stake in BancABC Botswana for its stakeholders. BancABC Botswana has achieved a great deal under Atlas Mara and now Access Bank is going to propel BancABC Botswana into its best and next phase of growth.

Q: What can you say regarding reports alleging that ABC Holdings is facing liquidation and struggling to pay creditors? Is Atlas Mara a going concern?

A: BancABC Botswana is not involved in the dispute between Nosard Finance and ABCH. The matter does not relate to the business or operations of BancABC Botswana in any way and is exclusively between Norsad and ABCH.

 

Q: The BancABC transaction is expected to conclude in the first half of 2021. You had assured your clients about the safety of their accounts, the stability of banking operations, and high-quality customer service being top priorities during the transition. The Bank of Botswana will be monitoring developments and exercising its supervisory responsibilities with a view to ensuring orderly change of significant ownership. What can your clients expect once everything falls into place?

A:  Overall, customers will have increased access to products and services through a best-in-class digital platform and a branch network spanning most of the country. The complementary capabilities and synergies will help accelerate BancABC Botswana’s strategic execution.

Q: What implications does the transaction have for operations of BancABC in terms of jobs, strategy direction, leadership changes and so on?

A: There are no planned changes to jobs or leadership roles at the present moment because the entry of Access Bank in Botswana is to grow BancABC Botswana and accelerate its strategic execution.

Q: Speaking of accelerating strategic execution, how does the growth strategy of Access Bank complement that of BancABC?

A: The transaction is complementary to our strategy that combines BancABC Botswana’s strong retail banking operation with Access Bank’s wholesale banking capabilities, providing significant scope for revenue diversification and growth in the corporate and SME banking segment.

Access Bank will bring complementary best-in-class digital platforms and product suites that it has been leveraging across 12 countries that I named earlier to enhance the bank’s digital capabilities, increase market share and bolster its ability to continue to deliver sustainable returns.

Overall customers will have increased access to products and services through a best-in-class digital platform and a branch network spanning most of the country. The transaction will accelerate BancABC Botswana’s strategic execution.

Q: You spoke of Access Bank’s digital capabilities earlier. BancABC has also been trying to be aggressive on that front and has launched a number of digital platforms of its own. What gives you confidence about Access Bank supporting BancABC on that front?

A: Access Bank PLC offers best-in-class digital capabilities, having won awards as Africa’s Best Digital Bank and Most Innovative Bank. Therefore, customers will have increased access to products and services through a best-in-class digital platform and a branch network spanning most of the country.

Q: Will Access bank’s digitalisation strategy have any implications on jobs?

A: There are no planned changes to jobs or leadership at the present moment. The entry of Access Bank in Botswana is to grow BancABC Botswana.