…Applauds It On Merger With Diamond Bank
Shareholders of Access Bank Plc on Thursday approved the bank’s final payment of 25kobo to its investors, even as it applauded the bank on the plausible merger with Diamond bank, describing it as a major leap that will enhance its operations.
The payment of 25 kobo yesterday by the bank brings total dividend for the year to 50 Kobo per share.
The trio of Sir Sunny Nwosu, Mr. Ademola Adeleke and Mr. Norna Awoh, who spoke variously at the Access Bank Plc 30thAnnual Meeting yesterday, commended 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 efficiency 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.
The shareholders who frowned at the continued hike in the fees being paid by financial institution to regulatory agencies (CBN, NDIC, and AMCON) in the domestic economy, noted that charges on Access Bank in the 2018 year under consideration negatively affected the bank’s earnings, which would have resulted in huge Return on Investment to shareholders.
The trio who commended the bank by bringing down its NPL ratio to 2 percent from 4 per cent, recovering over N2.2 billion from its debtors, cautioned the bank on the continued rise in its over N14 billion unpaid dividend to investors of the bank.
Responding to the shareholders questions, the Group Managing Director/CEO, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, said with the merger fully consummated, the bank with a total present branch of 600 branches spread-out in ten countries, three continents is poised to in the next five year be the African gateway to the world.
Wigwe who said the bank is determined than ever before to recover its bad debt explained that the current spread-out of the bank informed the call for the expansion of the board, noted that investors have better days ahead in the payment of good dividend yield.
“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’s used for supply to SME’s. We will ensure stakeholders’ value is optimised. If we don’t 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.it is to show our optimized board size. As we are presently in ten countries three continents and having 600 branches. To run the bank branches is quite enormous and challenging. 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.
An x-ray of the bank’s financial statement ended December 31, 2018 showed an increase of 58 percent in Profit after Tax (PAT) to N95.0 billion from N60.1 billion in the corresponding period of 2017.
The result showed Gross Earnings rising 15percent to N528.7 billion in FY 2018, compared to N459.1 billion in 2017, with interest and non-interest income contributing 72 percent and 26 percent respectively. Profit before Tax (PBT) for the period was N103.2 billion, showing 32 percent growth from N78.2 billion in 2017 while Return on Average Equity (ROAE) stood at 19 percent with a Return on Asset of 2.1 percent in FY 2018.
The asset base of the Bank remained strong and diversified with growth of 21 percent YTD in total assets to N4.95 trillion in December 2018 from N4.10 trillion in December 2017. Loans and Advances totaled N2.14 trillion as at December 2018 (December 2017: N2.06 trillion). Customer deposits increased by 14 percent to N2.57 trillion in December 2018, from N2.25 trillion in December 2017. Capital Adequacy (CAR) remained adequate at 20.8 percent, taking into consideration the regulatory transitional arrangement of IFRS 9 implementation. On a full impact basis, CAR stood at 19.9%. Similarly, Liquidity ratios of 50.9 percent (December 2017: 47.2%), remained well above regulatory requirements.
Commenting on the Bank’s performance earlier, Wigwe said, “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.