Why Zenith Bank’s Shares Remain Toast of Investors—Sunny Nwosu
By Dipo Olowookere
The Chairman Emeritus of the Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Sir Sunny Nwosu, has commended the board and management of Zenith Bank Plc for the payment of dividends to shareholders.
Speaking at the 31st Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the bank held on Wednesday, April 6, 2022, at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, he said investors love to have Zenith Bank’s shares in their portfolios because it never fails to pay dividends to shareholders.
He praised the financial institution for being consistent in the payment of dividends to shareholders, just as it did yesterday by crediting their accounts with N97.33 billion.
At the meeting on Wednesday, the final dividend payment of N2.80 per share proposed by the board was unanimously approved, bringing the total cash reward for the 2021 financial year to N3.10 per share.
Another shareholder of the company at the gathering, Mr Faruk Umar, who is the President of the Association of the Rights of Nigerian Shareholders (AARNS), also applauded the bank for rewarding loyalty.
“The bank is doing very well. All the ratios and indices have gone up. And more importantly, while we were in the meeting, I got my alert of the credit of my dividend. This is very commendable.
“The leadership of the bank has been very effective; we thank Jim Ovia for the leadership he has been giving, he has increased the dividend in spite of the economic hardship in the country, and I believe the GMD is doing very well.
“I commend the management and staff of the bank, including the board, and I am very confident that this year would also be very good for the bank,” he said.
Business Post reports that in spite of a challenging macroeconomic environment aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Zenith Bank grew its gross earnings year-on-year by 10 per cent from N696.5 billion in 2020 to N765.6 billion in 2021.
This was buoyed by a 23 per cent growth in non-interest income from N251.7 billion to N309 billion and a 2 per cent rise in interest income from N420.8 billion to N427.6 billion.
In the year, profit before tax also grew by 10 per cent from N255.9 billion to N280.4 billion as a result of the growth in the top-line and very strong management of the treasury portfolio that increased efficiency, resulting in a drop in interest expense by 12 per cent from N121.1 billion in 2020 to N106.8 billion in the current year. This further led to a 7 per cent increase in net interest income of N320.8 billion in 2021 from N299.7 billion in 2020.
It was observed that last year, the lender increased its customer deposits by 21 per cent to N6.47 trillion from N5.34 trillion, with the growth from both corporate and retail customers.
A breakdown showed that retail deposits grew by N146 billion from N1.72 trillion in 2020 to N1.87 trillion in 2021 on the back of a continuous drive for retail deposits combined with the strategic rebalancing of its funding base helped to reduce the cost of funding from 2.1 per cent to 1.5 per cent in the current year.
Although operating expenses grew by 13 per cent, growth remains below the inflation rate, and the Group improved its Earnings per Share (EPS) by 6 per cent from N7.34 to N7.78.
Also, Zenith Bank expanded its total assets by 11 per cent from N8.48 trillion in 2020 to N9.45 trillion in 2021, mainly driven by growth in customer deposits.
With the steady recovery in economic activities, the Group prudently grew its gross loans by 20 per cent from N2.9 trillion to N3.5 trillion, with a non-performing loan (NPL) ratio at 4.19 per cent compared with 4.29 per cent a year earlier.
Zenith Bank also recorded impressive liquidity and capital adequacy ratios of 71.6 per cent and 21.0 per cent, which remained above regulatory thresholds of 30 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively.
While commenting on the performance of the bank at the AGM, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive, Mr Ebenezer Onyeagwu, said: “If you look at the bank’s history over the years, Zenith Bank has always grown, and even within the pandemic, we have maintained a reasonable positive growth trajectory.
“Growth is coming from the fact that we are deploying our digital capability to grow more businesses, simplify our service processes, make our processes more efficient, and deal with customers’ complaints.
“Apart from developing new products, we are discovering new business verticals, especially within the retail segment, which have significant revenue.”
He added that: “meeting the expectation of shareholders means we have to work harder. The team is dodged, hardworking, resilient, and above all, we have a very supportive board that comes with superior guidance.”
On his part, the founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank, Mr Jim Ovia, thanked the shareholders for their unflinching loyalty, which has enabled the bank to rise to the pinnacle of the nation’s financial services industry, and assured them of the bank’s commitment to consistently deliver superior value to them.
In recognition of its track record of excellent performance, Zenith Bank was voted as Best Commercial Bank in Nigeria in the World Finance Banking Awards 2021, Best Bank in Nigeria in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards 2020 and 2021, Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards 2020, and Best in Corporate Governance ‘Financial Services’ Africa 2020 and 2021 by the Ethical Boardroom.
Also, the bank emerged as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands 2020 and 2021, Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital in the “2021 Top 1000 World Banks” Ranking by The Banker Magazine and the Retail Bank of the year at the BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BOFI) Awards 2020 and 2021.
Similarly, Zenith Bank was honoured as Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the ThisDay Awards 2020 and emerged winner in four categories at the Sustainability, Enterprise, and Responsibility (SERAS) Awards 2021, carting home the awards for “Best Company in Reporting and Transparency”, “Best Company in Infrastructure Development”, “Best Company in Gender Equality and Women Empowerment”, and the coveted “Most Responsible Organisation in Africa.