DIFC branch reports first year net profit of Dh3.4m
Babu Das Augustine, Banking Editor
Dubai: The DIFC branch of Access Bank UK Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Access Bank Plc, a Nigerian Stock Exchange listed bank expects to see strong growth for business through Dubai operations this year.
The Access Bank UK was established a decade ago to provide customers in the UK and in Africa with a broad range of business and personal banking services ranging from trade finance, treasury services, business and personal banking together with private banking and wealth management.
The DIFC branch, regulated by Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) is fast tapping into the trade finance business relations from the Middle East and Asia with the African continent, particularly Nigeria.
The bank reported net profit of Dh3.4 million (£671,000) for its DIFC branch last year, as the bank as a whole reported growth in operating income by 45 per cent from £25 million (Dh126.4 million) to £36.2 million, and a surges in profit after tax by 80 per cent per cent from £9.9 million to £17.8 million.
“We achieved this increase in earning operating within our moderate risk appetite while maintaining our strong relationship-based model,” said Jamie Simmonds, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of The Access Bank UK.
While the bank’s operations in DIFC started with the strong global relationship based trade finance, the DIFC branch has been building regional client base who have trade relations with Africa.
With regard to the bank’s core trade finance markets in Africa, Nigeria will remain a significant market, where it will continue to have a key role to play in facilitating the flow of trade to and from Nigeria. The bank will also continue to leverage the brand recognition that it enjoys in its chosen markets to broaden its base of trade finance and commercial banking customers. Given the current signs of improvement in the situation in Nigeria, the bank is confident that the business outlook is a positive.
“From Dubai, we want to be a trade finance gateway to Africa, particularly Nigeria. The revival in the Nigerian economy driven by oil price recovery, strong potential for agricultural exports to the Middle East, infrastructure driven investment growth and consumption demand are expected to drive two-way trade volumes between the Middle East and Nigeria, lifting the scope for trade finance,” said Simmonds.
Trade finance volumes
Easing of economic conditions in Nigeria is boosting trade volumes and scope for trade finance. Throughout 2017, the Central Bank of Nigeria continued to ease restrictions imposed regarding access to foreign currency and introduced the Investors and Exporters window for the purchase of foreign currency, which resulted in the Access Bank witnessing a continued increase in trade finance volumes. This is expected to improve in 2018 as the Nigerian economy continues to strengthen having emerged from recession and recorded positive growth in 2017, in part due to the growth in oil production and the underlying oil price.
While Nigeria will remain a significant market where we will play a key role in facilitating the flow of trade to and from the country, the banks is currently exploring opportunities in other markets this year
“For businesses in the UAE, the opportunities to trade and invest in Africa are abundant, particularly with the UAE’s infrastructure and position as the gateway between the Mena region and Africa,” said Simmonds.
The bank has established a solid base with a balance sheet growth of 26 per cent reaching £1.4 billion. The return on equity is at 16.57 per cent and the loans to deposit ratio shows a healthy 49.55 per cent with a 37 per cent growth in customer deposits to £425 million following the success of the bank’s fixed term deposit product and increased deposits from correspondent banks to secure their trade exposures, which allowed for a controlled increase in lending in line with the bank’s moderate risk appetite.