Nigerian lenders Access Bank and Diamond Bank have obtained the green light from their respective shareholders for their proposed merger.

The transaction was announced in December last year.

The deal has been triggered by Diamond Bank’s recent loan losses.

The bank had to offload its foreign businesses as a result.

The combination of the two groups is said to create the largest banking group in Africa by customer numbers.

The consolidated group will have a customer base of 29 million. This includes 13 million mobile customers.

Commenting on the deal, Access Bank CEO Herbert Wigwe said: “With the final merger of both banks and the status of the resulting entity as ‘the largest bank in Africa’s largest economy,’ this greatly bolsters the bank’s brand, opening doors of opportunity both in local and international markets.”

The merged group will retain the Access Bank brand, Wigwe said.

The combined entity is said to have operations in 12 countries, with 3,100 ATMs and around 32,000 PoS.

According to Wigwe, the deal’s cost synergies would offer significant long term value for shareholders.

“As a continental financial force, it is set to attract more opportunities such as trade finance from international partners seeking multinational lenders with local intelligence,” he said.