Business a.m.

Access Bank shareholde­rs approve N0.55k final dividend as bank plans customer retention strategy

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ACCESS BANK PLC’S SHAREHOLD ERS have unanimousl­y approved a final dividend pay-out of 55 kobo per ordinary share of 50 kobo each with an interim dividend of 25 kobo per ordinary share of 50 kobo each to be declared and paid from the profit for the financial year ended December 31, 2020. The dividend will be paid to members on the register of the company.

The shareholde­rs who were present at the bank’s largely virtually 32nd annual general meeting (AGM) held in Lagos at the weekend and monitored by business a.m. lauded the bank’s management for its efforts at driving growth and resilience in banking, corporate governance as well as in its corporate social responsibi­lity in the face of the coronaviru­s pandemic.

Sunny Nwosu, co-ordinator of the Independen­t Shareholde­rs Associatio­n of Nigeria (ISAN), while speaking at the event, praised the institutio­n for efficientl­y running its affairs and the appreciabl­e growth recorded in key operating areas as well as maintainin­g the bank baltional ance sheet to N9 trillion in 2020 from N7 trillion in the previous year.

The unanimous approval of dividends had a total of 354 shareholde­rs with 14,443,924,726 shareholdi­ngs present at the annual assembly voting in favour of the proposed dividend.

Herbert Wigwe, group managing director and CEO of Access Bank Plc, at the event expressed his profound gratitude to the helmsman of the independen­t shareholde­rs associatio­n. In his response to questions and projection­s for the year, Wigwe stressed that the various acquisitio­ns done by the leading Nigerian lender were hinged on the fact that the bank was driving growth from an accretive standpoint which has given the banking group more confidence to pave the pathway into a region we were unable to thread for about 37 years.

“The SADC region has a larger GDP than ECOWAS. As we grow and continue to be profitable, we can keep paying healthy dividends now that our earning per share (EPS) has increased.

“We do not play with recoveries, the non-performing loans (NPLs) ratio has gone down below 5 per cent and there are still more efforts to continue bringing it down.

“Forging ahead in 2021,” the bank CEO continued, “we had lots of complaints and fraud cases which we were able to solve. In this operating year, we are creating standards to ensure that we bring the number of complaints in such a way that any complaint before 2 pm will get immediate resolve. Those after 2 pm will take 24 hours; complaint outside of Access Bank will take 72 hours; technologi­cal problems that involve a fee, Access Bank will pay 5 times the fees.” Meanwhile, the bank has reported a 5.9 per cent year on year growth in gross earnings o N222.1 billion in the first quarter of 2021, principall­y driven by a 39.4 per cent year on year spurt in fee & commission income, FX gains and 10.7 per cent growth in interest income calculated using effective interest rate, offset by a decline in other operating income (by 72.9%) and a 67.4 per cent drop in net gains on financial instrument­s at fair value, while its profit before tax (PBT) was reported at N60 billion from N46.3 billion last year (+29.7% YoY). Also, an increase in tax expense (+39.9% YoY) led to profit after tax being reported at N52.5 billion, a 28.4 per cent rise compared to the previous year’s figures.

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