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Nigeria/France: Herbert Wigwe – “We want to be the Citibank of Africa”

In depth
This article is part of the dossier: Nigeria/France: Le Nouveau Chapitre

By Nicholas Norbrook
Posted on Monday, 28 June 2021 14:28

The Managing Director of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe
The Managing Director of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe (rights reserved)

Herbert Wigwe, the managing director of Nigeria's Access Bank, has been working on acquiring a French banking licence. It is all part of the plan to become the 'Citibank of Africa', and help plug the gaps in the global financial architecture that have left African companies shut out of financial markets.

From modest beginnings as a small wholesale bank in 2002, to Nigeria’s largest bank by assets, loans and deposits, Access Bank has mastered the art of inorganic growth. The purchase of Diamond Bank in 2018 and of Kenya’s Transnational Bank in 2020 have kept managing director Herbert Wigwe busy, from building a common culture to integrating the banking platforms on which each bank runs.

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France's President Emmanuel Macron spent a formative period in Nigeria and is now pushing French corporates to seek opportunities beyond their comfort zone. The Choose France summit of global business leaders held at Versailles on 28 June will be noticeable for a special Nigeria event, which will bring together leading Nigerian and French industrialists. Nigeria is the only country receiving this treatment at Choose France: a sign of how important France's economic diplomacy in Nigeria is to Emmanuel Macron.