By Itohan Abara-Laserian
Lagos, April 29, 2021 Access Bank Plc has posted a profit before tax (PBT) of N60.1 billiion, representing an increase of 30 per cent for the first quarter ended March 31.
The Chief Executive Officer of the group, Mr Herbert Wigwe, disclosed in an unaudited financial report notice sent to the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Ltd., on Thursday in Lagos.
Wigwe said the bank delivered strong results in the first quarter in spite of the challenging macroeconomic and regulatory environment.
He said that the PBT was higher when compared with N46.2 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2020.
Wigwe added that profit after tax grew by 28 per cent to N52.6 billion from N40.9 billion posted in Q1 2020.
He noted that that the profit was on the back of a 13 per cent y/y growth in operating income and a 16 per cent y/y reduction in interest expense which offsets the rise in impairment charges.
Wigwe also said that the group recorded a slight improvement in gross earnings by six per cent to N222.1 billion as against N209.8 billion in the corresponding period of 2020.
“However, the bottom line saw a significant increase of 30 per cent y/y to N60.1 billion from N46.3 billion in Q1 of 2020, on the strength of a 30 per cent y/y growth in net interest income.
“As a result of effective implementation of our cost reduction strategy, operating expenses remained flat y/y, despite the inflationary environment and increased regulatory cost.
“Our retail banking business also showed steady growth with a 112 per cent y/y increase in revenue to N57.5 billion from N27.1 billion in Q1 2020 and a 941,631 new customer sign-on via our financial inclusion drive during the quarter.
“This improvement is evidenced by the consistent and robust savings account growth to N1.36 trillion (four per cent YTD), leading to a significant reduction in our cost of funds.
“With the increased adoption of our digital channels and the growing customer base, we recorded a 29 per cent y/y growth in USSD transaction value and 40 per cent y/y increase in mobile and internet banking transaction Value,” he said.
Wigwe explained that in line with the group’s risk appetite and efficient risk management, the asset quality continued to improve as guided with non performing loan ratio of 4.0 per cent against (Dec. 2020 4.3 per cent in December 2020.
“Likewise, we expanded our loan portfolio cautiously as reflected by the marginal growth in our net loans and advances to N3.65trn YTD from N3.61 trillion in Dec. 2020.
“In furtherance of our vision to be the world’s most respected African bank and Africa’s payment gateway, we remain committed to a disciplined and thoughtful expansion strategy.
“Leveraging the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, we will focus on key markets to drive outside Africa and intra-Africa trade.
“In alignment with our objectives, we recently announced our intention to acquire a majority shareholding in African Banking Corporation of Botswana Ltd to further strengthen our Southern African footprint
“Looking at the quarters ahead, we are poised for strong earnings growth fueled by our retail momentum, robust balance sheet, and operational efficiency.
“Finally, I will like to thank our people, shareholders, and other stakeholders as we cannot have achieved these results without their dedication, commitment, and support,” he added.