Access Bank Plc on Monday announced it has signed a binding agreement with Atlas Mara Limited on a proposed merger between Access Bank’s subsidiary in Zambia, Access bank Zambia Limited and African Banking Corporation (Atlas Mara Zambia).
Upon completion of this prospective transaction, the Bank is expected to retain or increase its current shareholding in Access Bank Zambia, which following the merger will have over 70 branches and agencies, approximately US$1 billion in total assets and over 300,000 customers in Zambia.
The transaction will not require significant additional capital investment requirements from the Bank given the capital and other synergies created from the merger between Access Bank Zambia with Cavmont Bank in 2020. The proposed transaction is expected to be concluded in 2022, subject to fulfillment of conditions precedent including regulatory approvals in Nigeria and Zambia.
Commenting on the transaction, Dr. Herbert Wigwe, GMD/CEO of the Bank said, “This transaction represents another milestone that brings us closer to the achievement of our broader strategic objectives. The merger of Atlas Mara Zambia with Access bank Zambia is expected to augment our presence in Zambia and the broader COMESA region, Africa’s largest free trade area.
“We are particularly excited by the prospects of increased earnings contribution to the Bank from the enlarged Access Bank Zambia, which has also announced the appointment of a new Managing Director, Mr. Lishala Situmbeko, who brings over 25 years of cognate experience and deep local relationships into our Zambian operation.
“Today’s announcement is a testament to the strong confidence of the Zambian market in the Bank’s country and regional strategy as well as our strong confidence in the long-term prospects for the Zambian economy.”
NNPC Acquires Addax Petroleum, Expects More Investments on Assets
Nigeria’s energy conglomerate, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) has disclosed that it has fulfilled all closing obligations relating to the acquisition and transfer of assets of Addax Petroleum Development Company Limited.
This came as NNPCL promised to ensure that it facilitates investments in Addax assets with a view to boosting the energy economy in the country.
The termination of the relationship between NNPCL and Addax Petroleum Development (Nigeria) Limited is coming after a 24-year Production Sharing Contract (PSC) of operations with the energy conglomerate.
To bring about a seamless kick-off of activities, the NNPCL said it has constituted a special purpose vehicle, Antan Producing Limited with interim management to take over Oil blocs OMLs 123/124 & 126/137, hitherto operated by the concessioned oil firm.
Investors King reports that after both organisations had fulfilled necessary transfer obligations, the NNPCL Group Chief Executive Officer, Mele Kyari, signed the closing documents on behalf of the company, while the outgoing Managing Director of Addax Petroleum, Yonghong Chen, signed for his company at the NNPC headquarters office in Abuja.
It could be recalled that in November 2022, Nigeria’s energy company had signed a settlement and exit agreement with Sinopec’s Addax Petroleum Development (Nigeria) to end its four major oil mining blocks in the country.
To this end, Addax would no longer be the PSC contractor for the OML 123/124 and OMLs 126/137.
A statement issued by NNPCL Chief Corporate Communications Officer, Garba Deen Muhammad, said the closing obligations were done three months after the execution of the Addax Transfer, Settlement, and Exit Agreement (ATSEA) for the PSC Oil blocks.
Muhammed promised that NNPC would fetch more investments on the assets and appoint a competent replacement PSC contractor to manage it.
He added that the NNPC Limited would continue to remain the Concessionaire of the assets in line with extant laws and regulations, adding that exit negotiations and formalities were concluded and that the energy conglomerate in collaboration with the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, NUPRC, NMDPRA, FIRS, EFCC, and the FCCPC have agreed on the clean and amicable exit for Addax.
The NNPC Communication Officer added that the company would resolve all the PSC contractual issues, including litigations that culminated in the execution of a TSEA on the 1st of November 2022.
He said NNPCL has announced the appointment of the Transition Team lead, Mr. Sagiru Jajere, as the Managing Director of Antan Producing Limited.
Before his appointment, Jaiere was the Head of PSC Investment Management at the NNPC Upstream Investment Management Services (NUIMS).
Jaiere, according to Muhammed, would be aided by a team of highly competent personnel with in-depth knowledge of the peculiarities of the Addax Assets.
NNPCL maintained that much-needed investments would be facilitated to the over-taken Assets.
The company also said it would create value for the PSC and prudently conduct petroleum activities in it.
Access Bank Backs Off Kenyan Bank Acquisition Deal
Access Bank has withdrawn its proposal of buying 83.4 percent shareholding in Kenyan Bank, Sidian Bank Limited.
This was made public by Access Holdings who were trading in the transaction as Access Corporation in a filling sent to notify the Nigerian Exchange Limited.
Access Corporation had earlier in June 2022 announced that its flagship subsidiary, Access Bank had reached an agreement to acquire a large chunk of shares worth about $37million held by Centum Investment in the ownership of Sidian Bank.
The filling read “the completion of the proposed transaction was subject to fufillment or waiver of certain conditions before the Long Stop as defined in the agreement. Although regulator have all been supportive in engagements around the transaction, certain conditions precedent needed to prudently complete the transaction have not been met.”
Investors King gathered that Centum’s shares in Sidian Bank had fallen by 2.47 percent in December 2022, the most significant fall in Kenya’s stock market for the year.
Centum had said in their own statement that “the date has passed without all the conditions being fulfilled despite the support of the Central Bank of Kenya, Centum was not able to reach acceptable terms with Access Bank for extension of the share purchase agreement and therefore opted not to pursue extension.”
Access Bank, Nigeria’s biggest lender by assets had planned to double the share of assets outside its home market by 2027 and Kenya’s economy has been predicted to expand at a faster pace than Nigeria’s in coming years.
However, the Bank in its statement said it will continue to pursue its plan to buy more assets in Kenya and the East Africa.
“The bank remains, however, committed to growing its franchise in a safe and sound manner in Kenya and the broader East Africa community and will continue to explore a variety of organic and inorganic opportunities to grow.”
Access Bank had in 2019 acquired 94% of Kenyan lender Transnational Bank Limited.
Microsoft Moves to Deepen Effort in Web Search, In Talks to Acquire ChatGPT
Reports reveal that both parties have been in talks for months as the tech giant has offered a proposal of a $10 billion investment.
If the deal goes through, it will see ChatGPT’s valuation rise to $29 billion, while Microsoft will get a 75% share of the company’s profit.
Microsoft is currently seeking to edge out its rival Google as it is reportedly working to launch a version of its Bing search engine that is powered by an AI tech that is currently used in ChatGPT, as it will be unveiled at the end of March.
The ChatGPT has been a hot topic on the internet for some weeks since its launch on November 30, 2022, for its ability to create content, develop code, write essays, etc.
The Open AI chatbot’s core function is to mimic a human conversation including its ability to write and debug code as well as computer programs.
A lot of people have disclosed that the ChatGPT could pose a serious threat to tech giant Google, and probably displace it from being the dominant search engine worldwide.
Investors King understands that this is why Microsoft aims to integrate the Open AI chatbot into its bing search engine, in order to boost its user count and dominate the web search.
Reports reveal that Microsoft hopes for a more conversational search experience in which a bot provides contextual replies based on search queries.
Despite the superb ability of the ChatGPT, it has been disclosed to have a few limitations. The app has been revealed to sometimes write plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers.
It has also been reported to have limited knowledge of events that occurred after 2021. However, OpenAI CEO, Sam Altman has expressed reservations about ChatGPT’s current capabilities.
In a tweet last month, he tweeted that it would be a mistake to be relying on the chatbot for anything important, noting that it’s currently merely a preview of progress rather than the finished product.
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