Home » Late Nigerian banker Herbert Wigwe led Access Holdings to $451-million profit in 2023

Late Nigerian banker Herbert Wigwe led Access Holdings to $451-million profit in 2023

Access Holdings profit soars to all-time high under Wigwe's watch

by Omokolade Ajayi
Herbert Wigwe

The passing of Herbert Wigwe, a Nigerian banker and a titan of African finance, continues to cast a long shadow over Access Holdings Plc and its subsidiaries. While Wigwe’s leadership is sorely missed, his impact remains evident in the group’s record-breaking 2023 profits.

Profit soars under Wigwe’s watch

Under Wigwe, Access Holdings reported a 307-percent year-on-year surge in profits in 2023, reaching a high of N619.32 billion ($451.7 million). This dwarfs the N152.2 billion ($111 million) recorded in 2022. The group’s total comprehensive income mirrored this growth, skyrocketing to N1.031 trillion ($752 million) from N233.3 billion ($170.17 million) the prior year.

This exceptional performance is attributed to a combination of factors. Both interest and non-interest income witnessed significant upticks. Additionally, net foreign exchange gains played a major role, surging from N335.54 billion ($244.8 million) in 2022 to a staggering N628.93 billion ($458.8 million) in 2023.

A pan-African financial powerhouse on the rise

Access Holdings, a dominant force in Africa’s financial services industry, has strategically expanded its reach across 12 African countries, solidifying its presence on the continent and venturing into Europe.

The group functions as a holding company for a diverse range of financial entities, including banking, asset management, payments, pensions, and insurance. This diversified structure embodies the vision of Herbert Wigwe for a robust and comprehensive financial ecosystem.

Until his untimely passing in a helicopter accident on February 9, 2024, Wigwe served as Access Holdings’ group managing director and CEO. He held a significant 9.09-percent stake in the company, valued at approximately $55 million at the time of his death, solidifying his position as one of Nigeria’s wealthiest bankers.

Access Holdings’ assets soar under Herbert Wigwe

Wigwe’s leadership undoubtedly played a pivotal role in Access Holdings’ 2023 performance. Under his guidance, the group’s total assets ballooned from N14.99 trillion ($10.93 billion) at the end of 2022 to N26.69 trillion ($19.47 billion) by December 31, 2023.  Similarly, equity attributable to owners surged from N1.208 trillion ($881 million) to N2.11 trillion ($1.54 billion).

Buoyed by this impressive financial performance, Access Holdings’ board proposed a final dividend of N1.80 ($0.00131) per share, a significant increase from the N1.30 ($0.00095) per share distributed to shareholders in 2023.

While Herbert Wigwe is no longer at the helm, his vision and leadership continue to shape the trajectory of Access Holdings. The group’s robust financial performance in 2023 serves as a lasting testament to his impact on the African financial landscape.

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