From Ngozi Onyeakusi, Lagos
Fitch Ratings, a leading global rating agency in its latest report, has upgraded AccessBank’s National Long-Term Rating to ‘A+ from ‘A.
At the same time, Fitch affirmed theBank’s Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘B’.
According to the rating agency, “Access Bank’s IDRs are driven by the Bank’s intrinsic creditworthiness as defined by its Viability Rating (VR)”.
This, it stated, was a reflection of Access’ Bank’s solid financial metrics, which are stronger than most Nigerian banks.
Access Bank’s asset quality metrics is said to compare especially well with its immediate peers, as “the Bank’s stock of non-performing loans has remained under control, comprising 2.6% of gross loans at end September 2017, the lowest of all large Nigerian banks.”
The rating agency regards Access Bank’s resilient asset quality as a reflection of the Bank’s good corporate banking franchise and good management stability, which includes a robust risk management framework.
In addition, Fitch noted that refinancing of the Bank’s Eurobond in 2016 eased the bank’s foreign currency liquidity position. “Access Bank’s National Ratings are a reflection of its relative creditworthiness to the best credits in Nigeria.”
Speaking on the ratings upgrade, the Group Managing Director/CEO, Herbert Wigwe, said, “The rating is a reflection of our strategic intent to adopt best global practices in all aspects of our business. We have grown over the years to become a formidable force within the financial markets in which we play, with an aim to becoming the most respected African Bank”.
“As we embark on our next five – year cyclical growth strategy, we remain focused on establishing robust risk management and compliance frameworks, and seekinginnovative ways to continually eschew sustainable banking ethos,” he stated.