UBA to Realign Funding Mix for Lower Cost of Funds
**Trims NPL Ratio to 5.62%
By Dipo Olowookere
The management of United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc has expressed its desire to make efforts to reduce its cost of funds by realigning its funding mix.
Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the lender, Mr Ugo Nwaghodoh, made this disclosure while commenting of the bank’s mid-year financial statements released at the weekend to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
“I am particularly delighted that the key ratios are trending in the right direction. The net interest margin is trending upwards and will continue to improve as we responsibly grow the risk asset portfolio and realign the funding mix to lower our cost of funds.
“The cost-to-income ratio trended down to 60 percent with our focus on balance sheet and operational efficiencies which should enable us deliver our medium-term CIR target. Capital adequacy ratio increased to 28 percent from 23.6 percent in December 2018, providing a very strong buffer for asset growth,” he stated.
Continuing, Mr Nwaghodoh stated that, “We had a strong start in the year given the prevailing macroeconomic environment across our various markets.”
According to him, “There is better diversification in profit contribution as our banking subsidiaries across Africa contributed 38 percent of the profit before tax, whilst our recently repositioned UK business contributed 4 percent.”
The CFO further said that, “We expect this dispersion to continue, as the subsidiaries consolidate on their share of the various markets.”
Also airing his views on the results, the Group Managing Director/CEO of UBA, Mr Kennedy Uzoka, stated that, “I am pleased with the half performance of the Group, having delivered 14 percent growth in gross earnings and 21 percent growth in profit before tax.”
He said, “Despite the subdued yield environment in some of our large markets, we achieved a 9 percent growth in interest income and defended the net interest margin.
“We also achieved a 39 percent growth in our electronic banking revenues, as we broaden and deepened our digital banking play across Africa. Revenues from our remittance and funds transfer businesses grew 69 percent and 53 percent respectively. All these factors attest to the efficacy of our strategies and the resilience of our business model.”
Mr Uzoka expressed optimism that the “ongoing group-wide transformation program will in the quarters ahead, enable the bank deliver substantial operational efficiencies and best-in-class customer service, which will ultimately boost earnings.”
According to him, “We sustained our asset quality with the NPL ratio down to 5.62 percent, from 6.45 percent as at 2018FY. We will continue to adopt best practice standards to grow and manage the portfolio in the quarters ahead.”
An analysis of the half-year financial income of UBA showed impressive growth across key performance indices as well as a significant contribution from its African subsidiaries.
In spite of the increasingly unpredictable environment witnessed in some of its countries of operations, the pan African financial institution delivered double digit growth in its profit before tax as it rose by 21 percent to N70.3 billion for the half year to June 2019, up from N58.1 billion recorded in the similar period of 2018, just as the profit after tax also improved to N56.7 billion, a 29.6 percent growth compared to N43.8 billion achieved in the corresponding period of 2018. The profit for the first half of the year, translated to an annualised return on average equity of 21.7 percent.
The financial statements further revealed that UBA recorded a 14 percent year-on-year rise in top-line, with gross earnings of N293.7 billion, compared with N257.9 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2018.
Analysts say that this result emphasises the capacity of the Group to deliver a strong performance through economic cycles in spite of the overall challenging business environment.
As at 30 June 2019, the bank’s total assets grew by 4.8 billion, crossing the N5 trillion mark to N5.10 trillion, while customer deposits also rose by 4.8 percent to N3.51 trillion from N3.35 trillion as at December 2018. This growth trajectory underscores UBA’s market share gain, as it increasingly wins customers through its revitalized customer service culture coupled with innovative digital banking offerings. The bank’s shareholders’ funds remained strong at N542.5 billion, reflecting its strong capacity for internal capital generation.
In line with its culture of paying both interim and final cash dividend, the board of the lender declared an interim dividend of 20 kobo per share for every ordinary share of 50 kobo each held by its shareholders.
UBA, which prides itself as Africa’s global bank, was founded 70 years ago in Nigeria and today, operates in 20 African countries and in the United Kingdom, the USA and with presence in France.
The financial firm serves over 17 million customers across the globe with more than 1000 branches and touch points. In 2018, the bank received the award of Africa’s Best Digital Bank by the Banker’s magazine.