Shareholders of Zenith Bank Plc, at its 29th Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Abuja, unanimously approved the proposed final dividend of N2.50 per share, bringing the total dividend payment for the 2019 financial year to N2.80 per share with a total value of N87.9 billion.
This followed the recent release of the Bank’s audited financial results for the 2019 financial year.
According to the Chairman of the Board, Jim Ovia (CON), the AGM was an opportunity for the bank to engage shareholders on its 2019 financial year performance.
In his statement, Ovia said “Zenith Bank is committed to consistently deliver superior returns to our highly esteemed shareholders by ensuring that a good chunk of our profit is set aside for you. In a clear demonstration of this, we had declared and paid you an interim dividend of 30kobo per share in the course of the 2019 financial year. We hereby propose a final dividend of N2.50kobo per share. If approved, this will bring the total dividend for the year ended December 31, 2019, to N2.80kobo per share”.
Zenith Bank reaffirmed its leading position in the Nigerian banking industry posting an impressive Profit Before Tax (PBT) of N243bn, representing a 5 per cent increase over the N231.6bn recorded in the corresponding period of 2018. Profit after Tax (PAT) stood at N208.8bn over N193bn, an increase of 8 per cent, thus making Zenith Bank the first Nigerian bank to cross the 200billion Naira mark.
The bank’s result showed an increase in gross earnings from N662bn to N630bn, indicating dominance in market share, while its assets grew by 5 per cent from the N5.9 trillion to N6.3 trillion, a growth driven by the 29% increase in non-interest income from N179.9 billion in 2018 to N231.1 billion in 2019.
The Bank’s fees on electronic products continue to grow significantly with a 108% Year-on-Year (YoY) from N20.4 billion in 2018 to N42.5 billion in 2019.
The drive for cheaper retail deposits coupled with the low-interest yield environment helped reduce the cost of funding from 3.1% to 3.0%. However, this also affected net interest margin, which reduced from 8.9% to 8.2% in the current year due to re-pricing of interest-bearing assets.
Although returns on equity and assets held steady YoY at 23.8% and 3.4% respectively, the Group still delivered an improved Earnings per Share (EPS) which grew 8% from N6.15 to N6.65 in the current year.
The Group created new viable risk assets as gross loans grew by 22% from N2.016 trillion to N2.462 trillion. This was executed prudently at a low cost of risk of 1.1% and a significant reduction in the non-performing loan ratio from 4.98% to 4.30%. Prudential ratios such as liquidity and capital adequacy ratios also remained above regulatory thresholds at 57.3% and 22.0% respectively.
Financial analysts noted this unprecedented feat by a Nigerian Bank as remarkable, and an indication of strong financial leadership and resilience.