Access Bank Plc, the Nigerian lender with offices in eight other countries has leapfrogged other tier 1 peer rivals by recording double digit growth at the top and bottom lines amid an economic downturn hurting businesses in Africa largest economy.

It was expected that banks will have earnings squeezed on the back of exposure to the oil gas, the introduction of Treasury Single Accounts (TSA), imposition of regulatory induce costs and high interest rate environment.

For the first three quarters through March 2016, Access Bank’s pre-tax profits 36 percent to N22.5 billion. Net interest income also rose 46% to N34.6 billion while Net operating income rose 10 percent to N59 billion.

This compares with a Zenith Bank’s 3 percent drop in pre-tax profits, UBA’s pretax profit were down by 1.6 percent and GTBank saw a 6 percent drop in pretax profits in the period under review.

Banks in Africa’s most populous nation are hard hit by capital controls imposed by the regulator that restricts the sale of dollars to them.

This is because the Abuja based bank said such measures are necessary in order to protect the currency, hammered by a sharp fall in the oil price.

Oil accounts for two thirds of government revenue and nearly all of foreign exchange earnings.

Access Bank’s tremendous growth in interest income on loans and advances, fee and commission income, and net foreign exchange income, is responsible for the lender’s stellar performance in the period under review.

The stock market reacted positively to the impressive results of Access bank as share price appreciated by +1.83 percent to N3.90 on the floor of the exchange.