By Chioma Obinagwam
Fidelity Bank shareholders have given approval for the payment N3.19 billion dividend by the board of the bank for the financial year ended December 31, 2017.
The shareholders gave the approval at the bank’s 30th Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Lagos.
The dividend translated to 11 kobo per share payable to shareholders whose names appeared on the register of members at the close of business as at May 11, 2018.
Dr. Farouk Umar, President of the Association for the Advancement of the Rights of Nigerian Shareholders said a lot of shareholders panicked when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced that banks with low Capital Adequacy Ratio(CAR) and high non-performing loan(NPL) would not be allowed to pay dividend.
“For Fidelity Bank to declare dividend showed that it is in the good books of the CBN,” he said.
Umar also commended the bank for the $400 million five-year Eurobond at 10.5 per cent raised in 2017.
Corroborating, Mr. Moses Ogundeji, member of Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria, said the management of the bank had done extremely well in 2017 as shown in all performance indicators.
Ogundeji stated the shareholders appreciated the efforts of the board, management and staff in transforming the bank.
He noted that the growth should be sustained and improved upon in the years ahead to ensure higher dividend.
Reacting to the comments, Mr . Nnamdi Okonkwo, the bank’s Managing Director(MD), said the bank was aware of the growing opportunities in the nation’s market.
Okonkwo said the bank would continue to focus on redesigning systems and processes to enhance service delivery.
According to him, the bank would deepen cost optimisation initiatives to reduce operating expenses and cost-to-service.
“Clearly, our success in 2017 financial year has set a strong pedestal for sustained growth in revenue,” he said.
“We are optimistic about a favourable operating environment and we look forward to delivering decent set of numbers at the end of 2018 financial year,” Okonkwo said.
On the donations to the police, Okonkwo told the shareholders that it was an initiative of the Bankers Committee aimed at supporting the Nigeria Police.
He said the committee agreed to support the police by equipping them and as well provide other things needed to make their job easier.
Mr Ernest Ebi, the bank’s Chairman, said the bank was strategically poised to successfully navigate the business environment in 2018.
Ebi expressed optimism that the expected improvements in the global landscape would trickle down to the domestic economy to consolidate the comforting business climate witnessed towards the end of 2017.
Meanwhile, extracts from its financial result in the review period indicated that the bank’s profit after tax soared by 94 per cent to N18.9 billion compared with N9.7 billion in the comparative period of 2016.
The profit before tax also grew by N9.24 billion or 83.6 per cent to N20.3 billion from N11.0 billion in the preceding year.
The gross earnings rose by N27.89 billion or 18.34 per cent to N179.9 billion from N152.02 billion in the comparative period.
Total assets increased to N1.379 trillion at the end of December last year from N1.298 trillion recorded in the preceding year.
Its net interest income increased by 15.4 per cent to N71.5 billion in 2017, Net Operating Income rose by 9.9 per cent from N86.0 billion to N78.3 billion.
The bank’s total assets grew by 6.2 per cent to N1.4 trillion from N1.3 trillion in 2016 financial year.
The bank is a major driver of the nation’s economy and is reknowned for its support of the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises(MSMEs) sector of the economy.