The Nigerian economy has seen a practical display of financial gymnastics and truism in the saying that Collaboration is at heart of creativity.  It further appears in fact and fiction that Diamond Bank no longer exists under Nigerian Law and this has led to a commercial combination which we hope will define money moves henceforth and be at the forefront of innovation in our country’s financial sector going forward.  As a people, we are renowned to be quick in moving unto the next big thing, focusing on the news of the moment and acting in the now. While this has its great merits, it serves us better to go into the future armed with leading lessons from this merger.   The debate is currently ongoing in financial circles as to whether what was truly encountered and played out is a merger in the truest sense of the word or screaming with angle contents that makes it an outright acquisition.  The contest of viewpoints and ideas serves our ultimate interests but i commend with great strength, the wisdom of the regulators, Central Bank of Nigeria in particular and the Securities and Exchange Commission for opting to stabilize the system, not rocking the boats of interpretation full scale and putting the interests of stakeholders and customers of the banks at the forefront of its regulatory decisions and oversight conduct in the concluded combination.  The intrigues, perceived power play, lapses if any that led to the need for a merger in the first instance is not the key interest of this pen. It should be a subject of continuous research for the benefit of the academia and the financial sector as a whole. This article is one of commendation. It is posited that the Access-Diamond merger should be taught in media courses nationwide , made case study in financial discuss and be a subject of reflection in boardrooms anticipating commercial depression, combination or great growth.  It would serve us in great detail to think about the fallouts of a merger go wrong. Had the leadership of both banks not handled the process properly, there would have been panic withdrawals by customers, great destabilization of the financial system of the country as a whole, attendant job loses, the evils are endless.  In the current instance and thankfully so, what we have in real time is Sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest bank, largest retail Bank in Africa by customer base with 27000 staff across 592 branches spanning three continents, 12 countries and with over 29 million customers. A key lesson pre and post-merger is the public relations handling of the commercial combination by the leadership of both banks turned one. It is second only to the aggressive campaign strategy of the Lagos Governor-Elect.  An entity that controls the media ultimately controls the mind and that played out in this big deal gone well. The customers of both banks felt personally involved in the merger process with regular updates via email, social media platforms and other communication channels. This ensured that panic withdrawals were reduced to the barest minimum if any. A sense of ownership of the entire process was given to the shareholders of both banks and this ensured a conduct of the merger process at least in the eyes of the public, in the most seamless ‘’ethical’’ way. The united public appearances of Mr Herbert Wigwe, a leading alumnus of my Alma Mater, University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) and Uzoma Dozie at various events both official and social brought an exciting calm feel to the merger mix that made it appear that this combination had no loser in any way whatsoever. Mr Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede stayed where he loves best, baking the background and being the unseen strong hand. While it would be trite to assume that these men aren’t all jovial and cool in going about banking business and may in the pursuit of profits put up some capitalist crude at intervals, they have together inspired confidence in the banking system in a way so new and refined. As a lawyer, I can submit with studied lens that all parties went beyond the regulatory and legal requirements for a merger to ensure the shock in the moment goes on vacation. It definitely did. The customers of the new bigger Access Bank Plc. look forward to a fusion of the strengths of both entities to ensure they enjoy superior banking services. Businesses both in the financial sector and beyond should draw lessons from this merger to improve their service offerings, obtain techniques in dealing with impending chaos, planning for growth and aiding their commercial navigations. It’s hoped that Access Bank PLC would live out its promised commitments not to lay off staff abysmally while staying afloat , delivering profits for the benefit of its customers and shareholders.  Big isn’t new to Access Bank as it has been in a mix of mergers and acquisitions in time past that constitutes banking history. Thankfully, it flourished and it is to our ultimate general benefit it does same and more this time around. As we look beyond the merger, let’s take the lessons along. This article was written by Geoffrey Nwokolo Esq, A young Lagos based practicing lawyer and governance enthusiast.  He can be reached via email, [email protected]]]>

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