Zenith Bank receives shareholders’ nod to pay N54.9bn dividend

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Zenith Bank Plc has received the approval of its shareholders to pay N54.943bn dividend, which translates into N1.75 per share for the 2014 financial year. The bank got the approval of the shareholders after presenting a proposal to pay the dividend to them at its 24th Annual General Meeting in Lagos on Thursday.

The dividend proposal followed a year in which analysts said the bank’s performance beat estimates. The Chairman, Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Jim Ovia, told the shareholders that although 2014 was very challenging for the banking sector, the bank recorded a positive performance by seizing opportunities in the sector. He said the result signified “another excellent performance” and showed the durability and resilience of the Zenith Bank brand.

He said, “These results are once again an eloquent testimony to the sound financial health of our bank and the group. For the bank, total deposits was N2.26tn for the year ended December 31,2014, representing a nine per cent increase over the previous year’s figure of N2.1tn. “The profit after tax also increased by 11 per cent from N83.41bn in 2013 to N92.48bn in 2014.” He told the shareholders that despite increasing challenges in the banking sector, Zenith Bank would continue to better its performances year-on-year.

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He added that the bank would improve on staff quality, welfare and training, stressing that its employees were vital to its success. Reviewing the bank’s performance, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Peter Amangbo, expressed satisfaction with its ability to overcome the challenges in the sector and become the biggest bank in Nigeria in terms of tier-1 capital, showing strength in asset size, liquidity, profitability, asset quality and capitalisation.

“The very strong earnings, solid capital adequacy, high liquidity and good quality risk assets have positioned Zenith Bank at the pinnacle of Nigeria’s banking industry and in a commanding influence in the market that we operate in,” he said. He also pledged that Zenith Bank would continue to strengthen the partnership, solidarity and cooperation amongst all stakeholders relevant to its business and sustainable existence. In approving the dividend, the shareholders commended the bank for its performance and for sustaining its dividend payment policy. They, however, lamented the negative impact of fines on the return on investment for quoted companies and cautioned the Financial Regulatory Council against imposing fines on banks.

They called on the FRC to find other ways of sanctioning banks instead of through fines. The National Coordinator, Independent Shareholders Association, Mr. Sunny Nwosu, said at the event, “Zentih Bank has performed creditably well in the 2014 financial year as virtually all the performance indicators moved up. “However, we are not happy with the way the government agencies such as the FRC and AMCON are taking away our money in the form of penalties. Rather than allowing the banks to pay these penalties in the form of cash payment, they can penalise them through suspension in interbank market transactions for some days or ask the directors to pay the fine from their personal accounts. “That way, the various directors responsible for such responsibilities will be made to sit up. Imagine, Zenith Bank paid N14bn to AMCON and it is our investment that is being affected.”