Nigeria: Herbert Wigwe – Access Holdings Stocks Fall By 6.26 Percent

Access Holdings shares, yesterday, declined by 6.26% at N23.20 per share on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NGX) on the first trading day after the death of its Group Chief Executive Officer, Herbert Wigwe, in an ill-fated helicopter crash in California, USA. It closed at N24.75 on Friday.

It was the highest-traded stock in the NGX, with 24.90 million units of its shares traded in 662 deals. The day’s low price was N22.50 while its high price was N23.40.

Access Holdings Plc is currently the 15th most valuable stock on the NGX with a market capitalization of N825 billion, which makes up about 1.48% of the Nigerian Stock Exchange equity market.

Access Holdings is the fourth most traded stock on the NGX over the past three months, from November 13, 2023 to yesterday. It has traded a total volume of 1.97 billion shares–in 32,279 deals–valued at N47.5 billion over the period, with an average of 31.3 million traded shares per session.

A volume high of 117 million was achieved on January 10, and a low of 8.13 million on November 17, 2023, for the same period.

Wigwe, who died aged 57 and his business partner, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, are reputed to have transformed Access Bank, which they acquired in 2002, from a rather small commercial bank to be Nigeria’s largest bank by assets and Africa’s largest in terms of customer base.

He died on board a chopper with his wife, son and three other passengers, including a former Group Chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group Plc, (NGX Group), Abimbola Ogunbanjo in California.

It was observed that a condolence register had been opened at the corporate headquarters of the company in Victoria Island. Most of the staff were in mourning mood when Daily Trust visited the office on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Board of the Company is expected to announce a successor soon.

“In line with the company’s policy, the Board will soon announce the appointment of an Acting Group Chief Executive Officer even as we remain confident that the Access Group will build further on Dr. Wigwe’s legacy of growth and operational excellence,” noted the Group Company Secretary, Sunday Ekwochi in a statement.

Findings by Daily Trust revealed that the board might announce the managing director/CEO of its flagship subsidiary, Access Bank, Roosevelt Ogbonna as the acting GCEO pending regulators’ approval.

Ogbonna was among the team led by Aig-Imoukhuede and Wigwe to acquire Access Bank in 2002. The trio resigned from GTB.

He succeeded Wigwe as Bank’s Deputy Managing Director in 2017 when the latter was appointed MD. He also took over from him in 2022 as the MD of the bank while Wigwe became the Group CEO of Access Holdings Company.

Ogbonna has a very rich professional cum academic background. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (FCA), an Honorary Member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers (HCIB), a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Senior Executive Fellow programme, an alumnus of Harvard Business School and a CFA charter holder.

A financial analyst who preferred not to be named, confided in Daily Trust that Ogbonna is the most qualified among the directors and should be named as Wigwe’s successor, unless the board decides to bring somebody from outside the system.

“I don’t expect them to bring somebody from outside the company, so, the obvious choice will be the MD/CEO of Access Bank. He is leading the major business of the corporation and has been part of the Aig-Imoukhuede-led team since 2002. He understands the system perfectly and is highly respected,” he said.

Access Holdings is the fourth most traded stock on the NGX over the past three months, from November 13, 2023 to yesterday. It has traded a total volume of 1.97 billion shares–in 32,279 deals–valued at N47.5 billion over the period, with an average of 31.3 million traded shares per session. A volume high of 117 million was achieved on January 10, and a low of 8.13 million on November 17, 2023, for the same period.

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