One of Nigeria’s top financial institutions, Access Bank, has expanded its footprint to Europe as it opened a subsidiary in the French capital, Paris.
“The objective is to support trade between France and Africa,” Herbert Wigwe, CEO of Access Holdings PLC told local French media.
Access Bank operations will focus on trade finance, beginning by capitalising on flows between France and countries in Africa, particularly French-speaking nations.
“Most people would cite francophone Africa as the first port of call for everything in the UEMOA [West African Economic and Monetary Union] zone, CEMAC [Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa], which also includes central Africa, and of course places like Rwanda and so on,” Wigwe said.
Last week he took over leadership of the French-Nigerian Business Council, which was set up by French President, Emmanuel Macron, in 2021 to boost ties between companies from the two countries.
Access Bank’s Paris operations will be overseen by the group’s British subsidiary; “so it’s a start in terms of support and direct facilitation of business coming from France to Africa,” according to Wigwe.
While the bank currently has a strong presence in the UK, Brexit forced a rethink, including the need to have a presence in a country in the European Union.
Not only does France provide that platform, Wigwe said, “Brexit has created a lot of opportunities for France” too.
Access Bank is one of the five largest banks in Nigeria, with “a presence in over a dozen countries across four continents”, said Roosevelt Ogbonna, managing director of Access Bank PLC, at the launch in Paris on Thursday.
The launch of operations in France is an important step towards achieving the goal of bridging worlds and connecting opportunities for African businesses, Ogbonna said.