By Modupe Gbadeyanka
It is longer news that First Bank has the highest non-performing loans (NPL) ratio among its tier-one peers in the banking industry, above 20 percent, but the management of the company has assured that it would continue to work tirelessly to ensure that it is brought down to a single digit by the end of 2019 financial year.
Speaking at the 7th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of FBN Holdings Plc in Lagos at the weekend, Chief Executive Officer of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of FBN Holdings Plc, Mr Adesola Adeduntan, informed shareholders that recovery efforts on all accounts provisioned were in progress.
According to him, the bank will ensure that no kobo would be left in the hands of third party, noting that the bank would work harder to resolve the entire legacy NPLs.
He also told shareholders of the financial institution that the number of banking agents had increased to 20,000, adding that the figure processed through agency banking platform reached N1 trillion as at last week.
On his part, Chairman of FBN Holdings, Mr Oba Otudeko, assured the shareholders that the company had mapped out strategies aimed at ensuring enhanced value creation for the future.
Mr Otudeko said that the board and management would work together to create shareholder value and build strong foundation for the future.
“We are not resting on our laurels, and our renewed approach to synergy and innovation will be major drivers to unlocking earnings potential for our group.
“We believe that our efforts to integrate our offerings and provide end-to-end solutions for our customers will create a competitive advantage in our markets,” he said.
Group Managing Director FBN Holdings, Mr Urum Kalu Eke, in his address, said that the company was committed to greater exploits in the future in its drive to deliver value to its shareholders.
“I would like to reiterate our promise to you and the entire market that 2019 represents for us the year of inflection.
“All leading indicators, derived from our numbers, point to the commencement of growth across businesses, markets and indices.
“As we transition to a new strategic planning cycle post-2019, we are confident that the focused execution of our strategy, investment in future-enabling technologies, development of our talents and our re-engineered processes to repositioning the group for ultimate benefit of the shareholders,” Mr Eke said.
He also commended the shareholders for their unwavering support to the group over the years.
He assured the shareholders that the board and management had restructured the entire group for more sustainable growth.
“For liquidity perspective, you have a strong institution that would pay dividend on a regular basis.
“We have built capital buffet at the commercial bank and the other entities are well capitalised also.
“2019 promises to be a much better year than 2018; all operating entities are in safe hands with good management teams.
“NPL ratio should be at single digit by end of 2019, we will pursue recovery and when it happens the commercial bank will contribute to dividend payment,” he stated.
Mr Eke noted that significant growth in the bottom line was due to several factors including the improved risk management processes which endured that impairment changes dropped year-on-year.
He also attributed the growth to implementation of servers cost containment initiatives during the period.
The shareholders at the meeting approved a total dividend of N9.3 billion, which translated to 26 kobo per share.
The company for the period under review posted a profit after tax of N59.7 billion compared with N45.5 billion achieved in the comparative period of 2017, an increase of 31.4 percent.
Profit before tax stood at N65.3 billion against N54.5 billion recorded in 2017, representing a growth of 19.7 percent.
Gross earnings stood at N583.5 billion compared with N595.4 billion in 2017, a decrease of two percent.
Its total assets rose by 6.3 percent from N5.2 trillion in 2017 to N5.6 trillion during the review period.
Similarly, customers’ deposits expanded by 10.9 percent from N3.1 trillion in 2017 to N3.5 trillion in 2018.
The year also recorded reduction in impairment charges which declined to N87.3 billion from N150.4 billion, representing 42 percent drop and a proof to the improving loan book of the commercial bank.
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