International ratings agency, Fitch, has given Access Bank Plc’s issue of $300million 10.5 percent senior unsecured notes due 2021 a ‘B’ rating.

According to Fitch, the Recovery Rating is ‘RR4′, which denotes average recovery prospects given default. The notes were issued under the bank’s $1billion global medium term note (GMTN) programme.

The report explained that, “Part of the new notes issued were pursuant to Access’ exchange offer on its existing $350million 7.25percent of senior unsecured notes due 2017 issued by a special purpose vehicle, Access Finance BV.

“At the same time, Fitch has assigned final long and short-term ratings of ‘B’ to the $1billion GMTN programme following a review of the final documentation.”

Fitch key drivers include senior unsecured notes rated in line with Access’ Long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) of ‘B’. In the agency’s view, the likelihood of default on these notes reflects the likelihood of default of the bank.

“Access’ IDR is driven by both potential support from the Nigerian authorities, if required, and the bank’s standalone creditworthiness as defined by a Viability Rating (VR) of ‘b’.

The New York based company said its rating sensitivities on the senior unsecured notes is sensitive to a change in Access’ IDR, including a lower propensity and ability of the Nigerian sovereign to provide support, particularly in foreign currency.

“The IDR is sensitive to deterioration in the bank’s regulatory capital ratios, asset quality or liquidity.

Like its peers, the bank’s financial metrics are under pressure from the current challenging operating conditions in Nigeria,” the report by Fitch rating explained.

Access Bank Plc had successfully raised $300 million via a Eurobond from the international bond market.

The bank recently accessed the international market to raise the bond, with a maturity date of October 2021 and at a coupon of 10.5 percent.

This makes Access Bank the first Nigerian bank to raise a bond from the international market this year despite the country’s macroeconomic headwinds.

The bank’s management, in a statement, said the successful outcome of the bond demonstrated the strength, resilience and international endorsement of Access Bank Plc.

Market analysts also saw the Eurobond issue as a show of support for the federal government’s efforts to attract foreign exchange into the country.

Access Bank currently has two series of Eurobonds in issue – the $350 million maturing in July 2017, at a coupon of 7.25 percent, and the $400 million (9.25percent) maturing in June 2021 – as part of a $1 billion global medium-term note programme.

Commenting on the development, Group Managing Director/CEO, Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, said: “The bond will be for working capital, for lending to investment-grade names, including Nigerian companies seeking to expand their exports”.

He emphasised that the process signified a significant moment in the bank’s journey to entrench itself as one of Nigeria’s top three banks by 2017.

“It also ensures that we keep our promise of speed, service and security to our customers as we target Africa’s fastest-growing industrial sectors”, he added.

Access Bank is now one of the top three banks in Nigeria and ranked among the top 500 global banks, according to a 2015 report by The Banker magazine and is aiming to be Africa’s top bank.

The bank recently won the Best Branch Automation Project in the 2016 Asian Banker Awards; the 2016 Karlsruhe Outstanding Business Sustainability Award; 2016 Euromoney Africa’s Best Bank Transformation Award; and the EMEA Finance ‘Best Bank of the Year’ and CEO of the Year.

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