By Dipo Olowookere
At the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Dangote Cement Plc, the pay-out of N144.8 billion dividend to its shareholders was approved, which represented N8.50k per share in contrast to N8 per share paid to them in the corresponding period of 2015.
This excited the shareholders, who could not hide their joy and were full of praise for the board, management and staff of Dangote Cement Plc for giving them good returns for the investments.
“We are very happy and pleased with this result. The year 2016 was very tough with the recession and fluctuation in the foreign exchange market which the Chairman also said affected their operations, but despite all these challenges, the company was still able to pay us a very good dividend, better than last year, and even gave us hope of better returns on our investments in the years to come. This is very commendable and it is only a company like Dangote Cement that can achieve this laudable feat,” President of Amiable Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Mr Festus Akano, enthused.
Also at the meeting held in Lagos, another shareholder, Mr Akin Akinwumi, from the Progressive Shareholders Association urged the management to give a bonus and a better dividend in 2017.
He appealed to the company to do all within its power to give bonus issue.
“We thank the management for giving us this dividend but we are appealing so strongly that bonus issue should also be considered. For some of us, we prefer a bonus to this dividend and we know it can be done,” Mr Akinwunmi said.
He expressed optimism on the pan African plants, especially now that the plants were contributing significantly to the turnover of the company.
“It is a statement of fact that we are lucky to be shareholders of this great company. If you see what our subsidiaries across Africa are contributing to the turnover, then you will understand what I am talking about. I am very happy and our members are upbeat for the future, knowing fully well that it will only get better,” he remarked.
On his part, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Dangote Cement, Mr Onne van der Weijde, revealed that the expansion strategy of the company yielded fruits last year when Nigeria was in recession as the plants across Africa contributed significantly to the company’s turnover.
“We can see how that strategy has helped us in a time that our main market of Nigeria is facing a recession, high inflation, lower consumer spending and a shortage of foreign currency to fund essential imports.
“But outside of Nigeria we’ve had operations that have now been running for more than a year and they are experiencing good growth and improving profitability, so we have managed to offset some of those topline pressures in Nigeria with revenue streams from countries in very different parts of the continent.
“Furthermore, those Pan-African operations are helping to generate foreign currency for the Group, so this shows how a long-term decision to diversify can help with a short-term pressure like an illiquid currency market in Nigeria,” he said.
During the meeting, it was disclosed that company’s strategy in every country of operations was to be the leader on costs, quality and service.
It was further revealed that Dangote Cement, during the period under review, built large, modern, highly efficient plants that combine the latest equipment from Europe, China and beyond to enable it make higher-quality cement at lower costs, thereby giving it strong competitive advantages.
Also, in the 2016 financial year, the cement sales volumes of the firm increased by 25.0 percent to nearly 23.6Mt. Of this, almost 14.8Mt was sold in the Nigerian market. Revenues increased by 25.1 per cent to N615.1B, of which 68.3 percent was generated in Nigeria (excluding eliminations) and 31.7 percent from Pan-African operations.
The firm’s earnings before interest, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) decreased only slightly, to N257.2 billion, with Pan-African operations contributing N26.5 billion, excluding central costs, while earnings per share increased by 4.5 percent to N11.34.
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