Shareholders approve Zenith Bank's N28.46b dividend
By Gbenga Agbana
WITH an assurance from the board of directors of Zenith Bank Plc that shareholders would get more returns in the 2009 financial year, investors of the bank yesterday unanimously approved the proposed N28.4 billion dividend for the 2008 financial year, the highest ever paid by any financial institution in the country.
The amount culminated in N1.70 per share, which the bank's Managing Director Mr. Jim Ovia, said would be paid preferably through e-dividend, a system whereby various accounts of shareholders would be credited directly.
Gross earnings of the group rose by 120 per cent from N94.9 billion in 2007 to N208.3 billion in 2008, while after tax profit rose by 177 per cent from N18.8 billion to N51.99 billion.
Loans and advances rose by 55 per cent from N288.1 billion to N445.8 billion, while deposit liabilities rose by 87 per cent from N634 billion to 1.85 trillion. Shareholders fund rose by 198 per cent from N116.45 billion to N346.6 billion. Total assets plus contingents also increased by 98 per cent from N1.27 trillion to N2.51 trillion.
Commenting on the results yesterday, the President of the Association for the Advancement of the Rights of Nigerian Shareholders (AARNS), Dr. Farouk Umar, commended the board and management for paying the highest dividend by any bank in the country.
His words: "This is the highest dividend paid by any bank in the country in spite of the global crisis. Our bank has shown resilience. Our gross earnings is the highest and profitability is solid. We are also the second largest in terms of shareholders' funds today.
"The bank is upgrading its register department which is also good, and we urge other shareholders to open account with the bank for easy accessibility to dividend."
Corroborating his views, the president of the Nigerian Shareholders Solidarity Association (NSSA), Chief Timothy Adesiyan, thanked the board for the N1.70 per share dividend despite the increase in the number of shares in issue, from nine billion to 16 billion.
He, however, admonished the board and management to be wary of contravening Central Bank rules in future by strengthening the internal control unit of the bank.
Responding, Ovia thanked shareholders for their support and prayers, which he said had helped the bank to grow over the years.
He promised shareholders that despite the global meltdown, the bank has a solid foundation to weather all storms, adding that next year's figures would be better than that of 2008.