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Access Bank Rises to 1-Month High on Dividend Bets: Lagos Mover

July 12 (Bloomberg) -- Access Bank Plc rose to the highest level in a month on bets the Nigerian lender will be able to pay a first-half dividend as profit increases, according to Greenwich Trust Group Ltd.

The Lagos-based stock gained for a second day, adding 2 percent to 11.30 naira, the highest since June 12. About 64 million shares, or three times the three-month daily average volume, traded.

“There is speculation the bank will announce an interim dividend as compensation to shareholders as it announces new management and enters new growth phase,” Celia Rukato, an analyst at Lagos-based Greenwich Trust said by phone today. “We have a buy on the stock, with a price target of 13.17 naira as income is forecast to rise from expansion.”

Segun Fafore, a spokesman for Access Bank, could not immediately comment when contacted by phone today.

Access Bank appointed Herbert Wigwe to succeed Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede as chief executive officer at year-end last week and announced it is shifting focus to target retail customers in Africa’s most populous nation of more than 160 million people.

Profit in the three months through March declined 21 percent to 9.21 billion naira ($57 million), the lender said April 8. Revenue dropped to 52.7 billion naira from 53.1 billion naira a year earlier.

The stock has gained by 25 percent this year, compared with the 24 percent increase in the 10-member Bloomberg Nigerian Stock Exchange Banking Index and 33 percent rise in the Nigerian Stock Exchange All-Share Index.

To contact the reporter on this story: Emele Onu in Lagos at eonu1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Vernon Wessels at vwessels@bloomberg.net

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