Shareholders of Zenith Bank Plc has urged the lender to embark on seamless banking expansion, even as the bank declared a Profit-After-Tax (PAT) of N178billion, and also paid a dividend of N2.80 kobo to its investors.
Speaking during the Zenith Bank’s 29th Annual General Meeting (AGM), in Abuja on Monday, the bank’s Chairman, Jim Ovia, explained that 2019 the financial year had its challenges, but the bank explored other avenues to make the business thrives.
According to him, notwithstanding the challenges encountered in 2019, the bank leveraged on the opportunities within the business environment.
“Gross earnings grew by 5 per cent from N538bn in 2018 to N565billion in 2019 while Profit-Before Tax (PTB) rose by 4.1 per cent from N192bn in 2018 to N200bn in 2019.
“Also, Profit-After-Tax rose by 7.6 per cent from N165bn in 2018 to N178bn in 2019, just as the group shareholders’ find grew by 15 per cent from N816bn in 2018 to N942bn in 2019 while gross earnings rose by 5 per cent from N630 billion in 2018 to N662billion in 2019,” he said
Ovia added that as a pioneer in the deployment of digital technology in the Nigerian banking industry, Zenith bank remains committed to pushing the boundaries and setting the pace in financial technology.
Also speaking, the Group Managing Director of Zenith Bank, Ebenezer Onyeagu says shareholders have every cause to be smile with a dividend of 2.80k which translates to a dividend yield of over 14 per cent.
He said if compared vis-à-vis the current share price, it amounts to a dividend of 15 per cent per annum.
According to him, “We have assured the shareholders that no matter the challenges operating in the external environment, the bank will continue to be efficiently managed, we will create value and we won’t be reckless because we want to comply with a loan to deposit ratio.
We will also continue to remain ethical and focused, so shareholders have reasons to be happy,”
With regards to the coronavirus outbreak and its impact on the global economy, he said the bank has made the health and safety of staff priority, and adopted other precautionary measures.
He added that “We are looking at the areas of vulnerability as a financial institution and within this period, we have no plans of any risk acquisition until we see how the virus is contained and its impact on the global economy.”
Speaking to reporters, National chairman, Progressives shareholders association of Nigeria, Okezie Boniface said the bank has set a good precedence for government to follow in the area of profit-making.
“If a corporate entity is doing well like this, the government should also be able to do well, because if the government keep saying the economy is bad and we have this positive result by corporate entities, then the government should do it’s homework well to find its area of failure.
“The private sector has set a standard which government needs to emulate and that’s why we have this excellent result. Dividends of 2.80k are not easy to come. We are talking about more than N70 billion paid out as a dividend to shareholders and it is the highest in the bank sector and the closest should be Guarantee Trust bank who hasn’t done their AGM yet.
He, however, urged the bank to make banking more seamless for customers by exploring more technological platforms in financial services delivery.