By Dipo Olowookere
It seems all the efforts by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to reduce the huge unclaimed dividends in the capital market are not yielding the expected results.
A few years ago, the agency came up with the e-dividend policy to allow shareholders of publicly listed companies to get their cash rewards directly in their bank accounts.
Dangote Cement unclaimed dividends
Last week, Dangote Cement released its results for the 2020 financial year and after growing its revenue by 16 per cent to N1.0 trillion from N891.7 billion in 2019 and pushing its net profit higher by 38 per cent to N276.1 billion from N200.5 billion a year earlier, the board recommended the payment of N16 as final dividend.
However, what caught the attention of Business Post analysts in the financial statements was the unclaimed dividends of Dangote Cement, which increased by N500 million in one year.
According to the results, the total amount of unclaimed dividends outstanding as at December 31, 2020, was N4.0 billion compared with N3.5 billion as at December 31, 2019.
How to claim the money
In the financial documents, the company advised shareholders to come forward to claim the reward for their investment in the organisation, noting that “a list of unclaimed dividends is available on the company’s website at www.dangotecement.com.”
“The company notes that some dividend warrants have either remained unclaimed, are yet to be presented for payment by shareholders or have been returned to the company for revalidation.
“Therefore, all shareholders with unclaimed share certificates or unclaimed dividends should address their claim(s) to the registrars, Coronation Registrars Ltd, at email@example.com or 9, Amodu Ojikutu Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria.
“Members are encouraged to notify the registrars or the company secretary of any changes in address or other relevant information,” it added.
Reasons for the problem
Different factors are responsible for the inability of investors to get their dividend, ranging from registrars, investors, regulators, amongst others.
In some cases, registrars have been accused of deliberately frustrating the efforts of the SEC to reduce the number of unclaimed dividends.
They allegedly do this by not treating requests for the e-dividend promptly.
Investor shares experience
“For more than one year now, I have not been able to get my dividends despite submitting all the needed requirements to the registrars.
“I did my e-dividend processing through my stockbroker, Meristem Securities, and out of the about five or six they processed for me, Veritas [Registrars] has responded and has paid my Zenith Bank dividend.
“The others have not cleared up till this moment. This is not encouraging at all because it has almost killed my appetite for dividend stocks,” an investor in the stock market, Mr Aigbe Osas, informed Business Post.
How to solve it
Some stakeholders have blamed the regulators for this problem as they argued that the process can be made more seamless by allowing registrars to pay the dividend into accounts of shareholders with stockbrokers.
At the point of joining the market, investors are mandated to open an account with brokerage companies, which have all the details, including bank accounts, BVNs of their clients.
They wonder why registrars cannot liaise with the brokers and the Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) Plc to pay the cash rewards instead of asking for the filling of another form (e-dividend) for this purpose.
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