The Chairman of Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria(PSAN) Mr. Boniface Okezie in this interview with Olabode Jegede says the board of National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) which acts like a military bureaucracy should be investigated over poor insurance companies’ performance in the country. He applauds the management of Access Bank and Diamond Bank for a successful shareholders Extra Ordinary General Meeting, stressing that the management must improve on shareholders’ return.
What is your take on the merger of Access Bank and Diamond Bank?
The merger between Access Bank and Diamond Bank is a welcome development especially to the minority shareholders.
Shareholders of Diamond Bank did not lose their investments. The marriage they had was a compatible partnership and for us, we celebrated the outcome in which both Diamond and Access have set a high record that any bank that would go into merger must go through systematic scrutiny and due process that follows.
Everybody applauded the management of both banks as no one was short-changed. Infact, our investment was not that eroded as such, as we were able to salvage something and adding values to shareholders.
We are both shareholders of Diamond and Access Bank.
Access bank today remained number one by the time they consummated the merger and another big bank in Africa. So, that is another level of growing their investment. If Access bank is trading by N6 or N7 today, by the time the economy is doing very well, they are going to aim higher. So, another value has been added and will have a good reserve at the end of the day.
So, if they are talking about 29 million customers deposit base and with 1 trillion Diamond bank is bringing to Access bank, it is a bigger plus. Also, the beauty of it is that the workforce is going to be retained. I think it is a good merger.
What are the shareholders’ expectations?
The shareholders’ expectation on the larger bank is that Access bank must work hard to bring bigger returns on the investors’ expectations, a bigger dividend we are looking at. The share appreciation must go higher. So, if they are doing well, they will have a robust and strong balance sheet at the end of the day.
The bank will share a bigger cake and that will automatically affect the share price movement to a high number and customers’ service is going to be second to none.
So, the customer goes to the bank and he is attended to promptly, he comes out and do business. The bank earnings should continue to grow, that is the essence of it. So, Access bank will be in position of having enough liquidity to do more business with what Diamond bank is bringing on the table.
What is your view on the delay of results of insurance company on the Exchange following the adoption and implementation of IFRS 9 on company’s financial Instruments, and IFRS 4 (as amended) on Insurance Contracts by NIACOM?
IFRS does not just come today. I do not know why NAICOM is bragging about implementing it. The banks have implemented it, maybe the insurance have not be able to see it in the past to embrace it but NAICOM should also know that if results are not submitted on time, the Exchange would penalize them for those that are quoted there. NAICOM should have set a time frame for companies to submit results but for us, they have not done well in terms of remitting insurance because if you look at the companies listed on the bourse, the insurance companies have been the whopping boy, lagging behind. Look at their shares, 20kobo, 30kobo, they have nothing to write home about. They are not even at the market value price physical per share but they are on downward trend and NAICOM is doing nothing to help those companies. So, I do not know NAICOM brag joy in trading activities below (per/par) market value. So, I think for me, they should even have a board to investigate NAICOM which acts like a military bureaucracy. I think the federal government needs to reorganize the insurance regulatory body so that they can fall in line with the trend going today on in the industry.
What should the NSE do differently in order to compel most especially Insurance companies to submit their results on time?
The NSE should not give penalties, and then liaise with NAICOM on the problem and the way out so that they integrate the programme once and for all. NSE should show understanding not strike penalties on those companies because they do not regulate themselves.
Can you say enough has been done in the country to increase awareness in insurance sector?
Well, the federal government is not helping matters either. There are some laws they make sometimes that every high rising building must be insured but has government implemented that. So, if the government can enforce those laws they chunk out to public, a lot will be made in the insurance sector to run the economy.
Can you suggest to NSE to review free float of listed Companies?
Well, I think they need to do that because the understanding they have been listing now. So, if they have discovered why these companies have been listing maybe the free float are the issues or the listing fees are the issue. They need to retrieve those in the downward trend to accommodate them instead of delisting and at the same time you are going about to woo some investors to come and list at the Exchange while the existing ones are migrating out in drubs. That is not healthy for the Stock Exchange. So, they must do everything within their power to make that existing companies are retained within the system. They must find a way and accommodate all.