Shareholders of Zenith Bank Plc have unanimously approved the bank’s proposed final dividend, expressing delight at the final dividend payment of N2.80 per share which brings the total payout for the 2021 financial year to N3.10 per share with a total value of N97.33 billion.
The shareholders gave the approval at the bank’s 31st Annual General Meeting (AGM) held yesterday at Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos.
In his statement, the Founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr Jim Ovia, thanked the shareholders for their unflinching loyalty, which has enabled the bank to rise to the pinnacle of the nation’s financial services industry, and assured them of the bank’s commitment to consistently deliver superior value to them.
Speaking on the financial institution’s performance, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, said: “if you look at the bank’s history over the years, Zenith Bank has always grown, and even within the pandemic, we have maintained a reasonable positive growth trajectory. Growth is coming from the fact that we are deploying our digital capability to grow more businesses, simplify our service processes, make our processes more efficient, and deal with customers’ complaints.
“Apart from developing new products, we are discovering new business verticals, especially within the retail segment, which have significant revenue.”
He added: “Meeting the expectation of shareholders means we have to work harder. The team is dodged, hardworking, resilient, and above all, we have a very supportive board that comes with superior guidance.”
Commenting on the dividend payout, the Chairman Emeritus of the Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Mr. Sunny Nwosu, expressed the delight of shareholders over the consistent payment of dividends by Zenith Bank, noting that the bank’s shares remain the toast of investors because the bank has never failed to pay dividends to shareholders.
Also speaking on behalf of other shareholders, the President of the Association of the Rights of Nigerian Shareholders (AARNS), Dr. Faruk Umar, said: “The bank is doing very well. All the ratios and indices have gone up. And more importantly, while we were in the meeting, I got my alert of the credit of my dividend. This is very commendable.
“The leadership of the bank has been very effective; we thank Jim Ovia for the leadership he has been giving, he has increased the dividend in spite of the economic hardship in the country, and I believe the GMD is doing very well. I commend the management and staff of the bank, including the board, and I am very confident that this year would also be very good for the bank.”
Umar also commended the Group Managing Director over the numerous awards the bank received in 2021, especially the sustainability awards.
In spite of a challenging macroeconomic environment aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Zenith Bank Group achieved year-on-year (YoY) growth in gross earnings of 10 per cent from the N696.5 billion reported in the previous year to N765.6 billion. This was on the back of a 23 per cent YoY growth in non-interest income from N251.7 billion to N309 billion and a two per cent YoY growth in interest income from N420.8 billion to N427.6 billion.
Its profit before tax also grew by 10 per cent, from N255.9 billion to N280.4 billion in the current year. The increase was due to growth in the top-line and very strong management of the treasury portfolio that increased efficiency, resulting in a drop in interest expense by 12 per cent from N121.1 billion in 2020, to N106.8 billion in the current year.
This further led to a seven per cent increase in net interest income of N320.8 billion in 2021, from N299.7 billion in 2020.
The bank’s customer deposits also increased by 21 per cent, growing from N5.34 trillion in the previous year to N6.47 trillion in the current year.
The growth in customer deposits came from both corporate and retail customers. Retail deposits grew by N146 billion from N1.72 trillion in 2020 to N1.87 trillion in 2021.
The Group’s continuous drive for retail deposits combined with the strategic rebalancing of its funding base helped to reduce the cost of funding from 2.1 per cent to 1.5 per cent in the current year. Although operating expenses grew by 13 per cent YoY, growth remains below the inflation rate, and the Group improved its Earnings per Share (EPS) which grew by six per cent from N7.34 to N7.78.
Total assets increased by 11 per cent, growing from N8.48 trillion in 2020 to N9.45 trillion in 2021, mainly driven by growth in customer deposits. With the steady recovery in economic activities, the Group prudently grew its gross loans by 20 per cent, from N2.9 trillion in 2020 to N3.5 trillion in 2021, with moderated non-performing loans (NPLs) ratio from 4.29 per cent to 4.19 per cent YoY. The Group recorded impressive liquidity and capital adequacy ratios of 71.6 per cent and 21 per cent, which remained above regulatory thresholds of 30 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively.
In recognition of its track record of excellent performance, Zenith Bank was voted as Best Commercial Bank in Nigeria in the World Finance Banking Awards 2021, Best Bank in Nigeria in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards 2020 and 2021, Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards 2020, and Best in Corporate Governance ‘Financial Services’ Africa 2020 and 2021 by the Ethical Boardroom. Also, the bank emerged as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands 2020 and 2021, Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital in the “2021 Top 1000 World Banks” Ranking by The Banker Magazine and the Retail Bank of the year at the BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BOFI) Awards 2020 and 2021.
Similarly, Zenith Bank was honoured as Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the ThisDay Awards 2020 and emerged winner in four categories at the Sustainability, Enterprise, and Responsibility (SERAS) Awards 2021, carting home the awards for “Best Company in Reporting and Transparency”, “Best Company in Infrastructure Development”, “Best Company in Gender Equality and Women Empowerment”, and the coveted “Most Responsible Organisation in Africa.
Culled from THISDAY