September 4, 2014 / 8:55 AM / 3 years ago

Nigeria's Access Bank meeting investors over possible share sale

* Raising capital to meet regulatory requirements

* First Bank, UBA and Skye seen following suit

By Chijioke Ohuocha

LAGOS, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Nigeria’s Access Bank has been meeting with domestic investors over the past week to gauge interest in a possible rights issue of 60-70 billion naira ($369-$431 million) by the fourth quarter, a fund manager and a banking source with knowledge of the roadshow, said on Thursday.

The lender, which raised a $400 million in Eurobond in June, wants to bolster its core capital, the fund manager who attended the meetings in Lagos told Reuters, declining to be named. Access Bank was also discussing with investors in Abuja.

An official from Access Bank declined to comment.

Banks in Africa’s biggest economy have been boosting their capital levels in recent months, as the industry this year adopts new international capital requirements.

Chief Executive Herbert Wigwe told an analysts’ conference call last week while presenting the bank’s half-year results that he anticipated banks would need to raise more capital as a result of the new regulations.

A source at Access Bank said the bank was meeting with stakeholders and would determine the amount of the fundraising after the meetings.

Adesoji Solanke, banking analyst at Renaissance Capital, expects First Bank, which recently raised a Eurobond, to follow with plans for extra capital as well as United Bank for Africa (UBA) and Skye Bank.

He said most lenders had seen capital levels drop by 100-400 basis points to near the regulatory minimum of 16 percent under the stricter international requirements, adding some would have to lower dividends and loan growth this year to conserve cash.

Rival lender Diamond Bank, which has just concluded a 50.3 billion naira rights issue, issued a $200 million in Eurobond in May. Stanbic IBTC Bank has also announced plans to raise 30 billion naira.

1 US dollar = 162.41 naira Additional reporting by Oludare Mayowa; Editing by Tim Cocks and Mark Potter

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