…applauds merger with Diamond Bank
Stories by Olabode Jedege
The shareholders of Access Bank Plc have approved the final payment of N0.25 kobo to its investors, the payment by the bank brings total dividend for the year ended December 31, 2018 to N0.50 Kobo per share.
The shareholders, at Bank 30th Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Lagos on Thursday, applauded the bank on the merger with Diamond bank, describing it as a major rise that will enhance its operations.
They frowned at the continued hike in the fees being paid to regulatory agencies by financial institutions in the country, stating that the charges on Access Bank in the year under consideration negatively affected the bank’s earnings, which would have resulted in huge return on investment to shareholders.
Sir Sunny Nwosu, Mr. Adebayo Adeleke and Mr. Norna Awoh, who spoke at the AGM commend the bank in returning profit not only to investors of the bank, but also to Diamond Bank former shareholders.
According to them, the growth being recorded in the bank was due to the operational effectiveness of the entire bank’s management which already has started to also reflect in the 2019 first quarter of the bank, where it has posted a profit before tax of over N45 billion.
They also commend the bank by bringing down its Non-Performing Loan (NPL) ratio to two per cent from four per cent, recovering over N2.2 billion from its debtors, cautioned the bank on the maintained rise in its over N14 billion unpaid dividend to investors of the bank.
The Group Managing Director/CEO, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, while reacting to the shareholders questions, said that with the merger fully consummated, the bank is poised to be the African gateway to the world in the next five year.
Wigwe said that the bank is determined than ever before to recover its bad debt and that the current spread-out of the bank informed the call for the expansion of the board.
He added that investors have better days ahead in the payment of good dividend yield.
According to him, “The 25 kobo was paid so that going further, we would have enough capital to support the large entity which we have now become.
“Some of the deduction to CBN may be appropriate, as it is used for supply to SME’s. We will ensure stakeholders’ value is optimised.
“If we do not optimised and drive the SME’s, who are major driver of economic growth, there is bound to be issues ahead.
“We will ensure proper parity. It is not over done, we will be more thorough to provide proper clarity.
“The expansion being sought on the board is in line with the CBN position to show our optimized board size as we are presently in 10 countries, three continents and having 600 branches.
“To run the bank branches is quite enormous and challenging but it will ensure a bigger and stronger bank for shareholders.”
On unclaimed dividend, Wigwe said “we will have to work assiduously with the Registrar to ensure investors get their money as at when due.
Commenting on the Bank’s performance, Wigwe said that, “2018 marked a significant year of progress for the Bank amidst an unfavourable macro climate.
“We made solid progress throughout 2018 in line with our 2018-2022 five-year strategy, and we remain committed to the achievement of our strategic imperatives going forward as we continue to invest in our people and technology in order to improve operational efficiency and service touch points with earnings growth in 2019.”
According to him, the contribution of the Bank’s subsidiaries to Group profits grew 116 percent to N27.9 billion, underlined by the effective implementation of overall strategy.
“In pursuit of our vision to be one of the leading Banks in Nigeria, we took accelerated strides in the last quarter of the year towards achieving our overall retail strategy.
“The merger with Diamond Bank will enable us to fully entrench ourselves in the retail market with a view to lowering our funding cost.
“This transaction is anticipated to be completed by April 2019, resulting in the creation of an enlarged, efficient and digitally led tier 1 retail banking franchise,” he stated.