Naira devaluation won’t affect our business, says Access Bank boss, Herbert Wigwe

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Access Bank Plc says it does not expect the naira’s devaluation to have a significant impact on its business as most of its dollar facilities have been loaned to clients generating foreign currencies, according to its chief executive, Herbert Wigwe.

The Central Bank of Nigeria devalued the naira by eight percent and raised interest rates by 100 basis points on Tuesday, hoping to stem losses to its foreign reserves from defending the currency against weaker oil prices.

“It is little or nothing in terms of the implications to my financials just because of where my lending is,” Wigwe told Reuters in an interview in Johannesburg.

Access Bank raised $400 million in Eurobonds earlier this year.

Domestic rates are likely to rise by 200 basis points and hurt lending to the manufacturing and trade business sectors, he said.

The naira devaluation will probably dampen foreign investor demand for Access Bank’s N68 billion ($385 million) rights issue as well, Wigwe said, adding that falling oil prices would hurt appetite for the issue too.

Local investors are expected to plug any hole and the bank still anticipates raising an “acceptable portion” of it.

Wigwe said the bank had also been cleared of any wrongdoing after a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into the freezing of Access Bank’s share price in September.

The Nigerian Stock Exchange suspended the shares for a week after Access Bank applied to the bourse arguing that information on its capital raising was not publicly available and that it wanted to avoid speculations in its shares.

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