GTB, Zenith Bank Pay N110bn in Naira Rain to Shareholders

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As Nigerians continue to bear the brunt of the economic downturn and the debilitating cash squeeze in the country, the shareholders of two of Nigeria’s largest banks – Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) and Zenith Bank Plc – were able to smile yesterday when both banks held their respective annual general meetings (AGMs) on Tuesday and wednesday, and got approval to pay a whopping N110 billion to them.

The N52.33 billion approved by GTBank’s shareholders and another N57.6 billion approved by the shareholders of Zenith Bank would go a long way in releasing cash to millions of shareholders of both banks at a time most Nigerians are broke and reeling from the cash squeeze in the economy.

At its AGM held in Lagos on Tuesday, GTBank rewarded its shareholders with a total dividend of N52.1 billion for the year ending December 31, 2015. The dividend translated to N1.77 per share.

GTBank posted gross earnings of N298.8 billion, showing an increase of 8.1 per cent compared with N276.4 billion in 2014. Net interest income grew by 12.3 per cent from N142.4 billion to N159.9 billion.

As was expected for most banks, GTBank’s impairment charges also grew by 74.8 per cent from N7.1 billion to N12.4 billion, while its operating expenses remained almost flat at N96.4 billion, compared with N94.7 billion in 2014.

The bank’s profit before tax rose marginally by 3.7 per cent to N120.7 billion from N116.4 billion, while profit after tax grew by 5.3 per cent to N99.4 billion, up from N91.4 billion.

The directors recommended a final dividend of N1.52 per share, having paid an interim dividend of 25 kobo, bringing the total dividend to N1.77 per share or N51.33 billion.

A further analysis of the results indicate that despite the implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) by the federal government, the bank’s customer deposits remained relatively stable with a marginal decline from N1.62 trillion in 2014 to N1.61trillion in 2015.

Commenting on the performance, the Managing Director/CEO of GTBank, Mr. Segun Agbaje said: “The bank’s financial performance in 2015 was an indication that we have earned the loyalty of our customers and was an attestation of the hard work and dedication of our staff, management and the board. The group has delivered a respectable profit before tax of N120.7 billion despite an extremely challenging business environment in 2015.

“As a bank, we will continue to actively partner with our customers and grow our business in a sustainable manner that is not only driven by profit objective, but with an increased focus on empowering our customers with a view to growing Nigerian economy.

“Also, we remain committed to maximising shareholders’ value and delivering superior and sustainable returns whilst actively expanding our franchise in select, high growth African markets where we believe we have a competitive advantage.”

At Zenith Bank’s AGM, its shareholders approved a dividend of N57.6 billion for the year ending December 31, 2015. The bank recorded a profit before tax of N125.61 billion for the year, compared to N119.7 billion in 2014. Profit after tax also rose from N103.275 billion to N105.66 billion.

From its PAT, Zenith Bank directors recommended a total dividend of N57.6 billion, which translated to N1.80 per share, up from N1.75 paid the previous year.

Shareholders of the bank, at the AGM in Lagos wednesday, unanimously approved the dividend and commended the bank for the improved performance despite the challenging operating environment.

The National Coordinator, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Mr. Sunny Nwosu, said the bank had done well in 2015 by paying its shareholders dividends.

He encouraged the management to maintain its good corporate governance principles, which he said impacted on the bank’s profitability.

Similarly, Chief Timothy Adesiyan of Nigeria Shareholders Solidarity Association (NSSA) hailed the efforts of the board and management of the bank at recording growth in the year under review.

Another shareholder and National President, the Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Okezie Boniface, urged the management of the bank to implement better strategies that would sustain the impressive performance going forward.

“The concern of shareholders is to get returns on their investment and Zenith Bank met our expectations even in a better way. The returns we get from Zenith Bank are the best in the industry,” he declared.

In his address, Chairman of Zenith Bank, Mr. Jim Ovia, said: “The bank remains committed to delivering superior returns to our shareholders as we declared an interim dividend of 25 kobo per share and a final dividend of N1.55, bringing the total dividend for the period to N1.80 as against N1.75 per share paid the previous year.”

He noted that owing to a number of domestic and external factors, 2015 was a very challenging year for operators in the banking industry.

He noted, however, that the total deposits was N2.33 trillion for the year ending December 31, 2015, representing an increase of three per cent over the previous year’s figure of N2.27 trillion.

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