Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Access Bank targets local investors
By Kabanda Chulu
Tue 30 Apr. 2013, 14:00 CAT

ACCESS Bank Zambia has concluded a Private Placement targeted at local investors from which a total of US$21 million has been received.

The Private Placement will enable the bank convert to a local institution as it seeks to meet the minimum capital requirement of KR104 million (US$20 million).

Access Bank, which is originally from Nigeria, is also listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

"Suffice to say that once we receive all the funds pledged, Access Bank Zambia Limited will be well within the Bank of Zambia's stipulated Capital requirement, with 51 per cent of the Bank vested in the local shareholders," Access Bank Zambia managing director Jekwu Ozoemene said in an interview in Lusaka.

"However, Access Bank Plc will still maintain management control to enable the local related company leverage off the network and connections of the Group."

On macroeconomic fundamentals, Ozoemene said the Zambian economy was strong and moving towards a positive direction, provided political stability and sound macroeconomic policies were maintained.

"We see inflation closing at the target approximately seven per cent. We also foresee the economy expanding at a rate of about seven to eight per cent in view of the anticipated huge infrastructure spending by the government," he said. "On depreciation of the kwacha, the local currency may have depreciated against the US dollar but has actually appreciated against other currencies such as the rand, euro and evidences more of a strengthening of the US dollar than the weakening of the Kwacha."

He dismissed assertions that commercial banks were operating a cartel in the country, resulting in similar lending rates.

"Commercial banks in Zambia (Access Bank being one of them) are in competition with each other thus I find it extremely difficult to support or believe the assertion that such a cartel exists," Ozoemene said.

"Having said that, however, if such a situation is found to operate in this market, then the regulatory authorities should not just stop short at pronouncing the existence of the cartel, but should see it through the apprehending of identified culprits and applying the appropriate sanctions."

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