Snapshots of Nigeria’s leading banks in order of revenues posted through third quarter 2011.

FirstBank of Nigeria – Founded in 1894 and listed on the Nigerian stock exchange in 1971, FirstBank is Nigeria’s oldest bank and largest by 2011 revenues. It provides commercial banking services, including merchant and investment banking, fund management, registrars, advisory services as well as trusteeship. With 611 business offices nationwide, it has the second largest branch network in Nigeria and abroad. It accounts for more than 18% of the top 10 banks, with total assets accounting for more than 13% of the industry’s total after it shrunk from its pre-merger and acquisition share of more than 14% of the industry’s total assets. FirstBank is regarded as Nigeria’s most stable bank having survived the 2009 banking sector reforms unscathed. It has the highest post merger and acquisition deposit shares of Nigerian banks of nearly 13% of the industry’s total. FirstBank has a long- and short-term credit rating of B+/B from Standard & Poor’s with an outlook rating of positive.

Zenith Bank – With a total business office network of 315, Zenith Bank accounts for 11% of total post merger and acquisition asset share of Nigerian banks. It also has the second largest share of the banking sector’s total post merger and acquisition deposit shares with almost 12%. The bank’s core services include corporate and investment banking, commercial banking, foreign exchange, and treasury and cash management. The bank has a long- and short-term credit rating of B+/B from Standard & Poor’s with an outlook rating of positive.

Guaranty Trust Bank – Combined, Guaranty Trust Bank and Zenith Bank account for about half the total size of Nigeria’s top 10 bank index. Founded in 1990, GT Bank (as it is also known) offers retail banking, corporate finance, loans and advances, money market activities and foreign exchange operations services. The bank has risen quickly and is currently the most profitable Nigerian bank accounting for a quarter of the top 10 index weight. It is a tier one bank and owns almost 7% of the post-merger and acquisition asset shares of Nigerian banks. GT Bank also own nearly 7% of the post merger and acquisition deposit shares of Nigerian banks with 186 branch offices across Nigeria. The bank is recognized for excellence and widely regarded as Nigeria’s most respected bank. GT Bank has a long- and short-term credit rating of B+/B from Standard & Poor’s with an outlook rating of positive.

Stanbic IBTC Bank – One of two lenders with the Central Bank’s approval to offer Islamic banking services in the country, Stanbic IBTC Bank’s operations in Nigeria include investment banking, wholesale banking and brokerage services. A member of the Standard Bank Group, it has 141 branch offices. It accounts for more than 2% of total banking assets in the sector and controls almost 2% of total deposits. Through its brokerage subsidiary, IBTC Asset Management, it operates several mutual funds including the IBTC Nigerian Equity Fund, the largest open-ended mutual fund in Nigeria with a net asset value in excess of several billion under management. Stanbic IBTC is the only bank that has a pension fund administrator through IBTC Pension Managers.

Access Bank – With its acquisition of a bailed-out lender Intercontinental Bank, Access Bank was one of the biggest winners in the Nigerian banking sector reform over the past two years. The acquisition made Access Bank a tier one bank in 2011 and its asset share grew from 5.0% of the industry total to more than 10%. Its deposit size also grew from just over 4% of industry total to almost 10% while the number of branch offices increased from 131 to 491. Access Bank is one of Nigeria’s leading e-payment service providers. It has business offices in seven African countries and in the United Kingdom. Access Bank has a long- and short-term credit rating of B+/B from Standard & Poor’s with an outlook rating of negative.

United Bank of Africa – A Pan-African bank, United Bank of Africa (UBA) is one of the oldest lenders in Nigeria. It has the largest number of business offices in the industry, with a total of 750 in 18 countries across Africa including 711 offices in Nigeria alone. UBA accounts for more than 9% of the banking industry’s post merger and acquisition asset shares and maintains 11% of industry deposits. UBA has an outlook rating of stable from Fitch Ratings.

First City Monument Bank – Offering investment as well as retail banking services, First City Monument Bank (FCMB) participated actively in the banking reforms. FCMB accounts for 5% of the industry’s post merger and acquisition total. It has 317 business offices and accounts for almost 5% of industry deposits. FCMB has a long- and short-term credit rating of B+/B by Standard & Poor’s.

Skye Bank – A commercial bank formed in 2006 when former Prudent Bank merged with four other lenders, Skye Bank’s services include corporate and investment banking as well as private banking. Skye Bank accounts for 4% of total industry assets and more than 4% of total deposits. It has 249 business offices across Nigeria.

Fidelity Bank – With a strong base in the agricultural industry, Fidelity Bank’s operations also include corporate banking, private banking and treasury management. The bank accounts for almost 3% of the industry’s total assets.

Diamond Bank – Diamond Bank’s services include investment banking, foreign exchange, electronic and internet banking products, retail as well as corporate banking. Diamond Bank accounts for nearly 4% of the industry’s total assets. It has 215 business offices nationwide and controls almost 4% of total industry deposits. Diamond Bank has an outlook rating of stable from Fitch Ratings.

Success Story
Capitalizing on reform

Access Bank is one bank that has capitalized heavily on the opportunities presented by the Nigerian banking reforms of 2009.

The bank leapt into the first tier of banks after post merger acquisitions. In 2011, it acquired Intercontinental Bank, a lender bailed out by the Central Bank, and its asset share doubled to 10% of the banking industry total. Moreover, its deposit share jumped from 4.3% to 9.8% of industry total while its nationwide business office network more than tripled to 491 from 131.

“Among our corporate objectives is to rank among Nigeria’s top three leading financial service institutions,” says Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, CEO of Access Bank, which was incorporated as a privately owned commercial bank in 1989.

The bank today is among the ten largest banks in Nigeria in terms of assets. Based on its recent success, it seems well on the way to reaching its objective. An October 2011 Renaissance Capital report stated: “Access Bank is the biggest winner in the Nigerian banking sector reform of the past two years.”

In 2001, Access Bank obtained a universal banking license from the Central Bank to offer other banking services.

In 2002, it began an ambitious transformation drive to reposition itself as one of Nigeria’s leading financial institutions within a five-year period. This task was perceived by many as audacious, given the realities of the bank at the time.

The impact of the transformation agenda was reflected in the first year. The bank’s balance sheet grew 100% and it posted an impressive one billion Naira ($6.3 million) in profit before tax. This marked the beginning of what would be a six-year record of triple-digit growth.