Shareholders of Zenith Bank Plc, have approved the proposed final dividend of N97.33 billion for the financial year ended December 31, 2021.
The shareholders gave their approval at the 31st annual general meeting (AGM) of the bank held on Wednesday in Lagos.
They expressed delight at the bumper final dividend payout of N2.80 per share, which brings the total dividend for the 2021 financial year to N3.10 per share with a total value of N97.33 billion.
In his statement, Founder and Chairman of the Bank, 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.
Speaking on the bank’s performance, the group managing director/chief executive, 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.
“Meeting the expectation of shareholders means we have to work harder. The team is dogged, hardworking, resilient, and above all, we have a very supportive board that comes with superior guidance.”
On the dividend payout, the founder of the Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Sir Sunny Nwosu, expressed the delight of shareholders over the consistent payment of dividends by Zenith Bank, noting that the bank’s shares remain the toast of investors because the bank has never failed to pay dividends to shareholders.
Also, the president of the Association of the Rights of Nigerian Shareholders (AARNS), Dr Faruk Umar, said, “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.”
In spite of a challenging macroeconomic environment aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Zenith Bank Group achieved year-on-year (YoY) growth in gross earnings of 10 percent from N696.5 billion reported in the previous year to N765.6 billion. This was on the back of a 23 percent YoY growth in non-interest income from N251.7 billion to N309 billion and a two percent YoY growth in interest income from N420.8 billion to N427.6 billion.
Profit before tax also grew by 10 percent, from N255.9 billion to N280.4 billion in the current year. The increase was due to 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 percent from N121.1 billion in 2020 to N106.8 billion in the current year. This further led to a seven percent increase in net interest income of N320.8 billion in 2021 from N299.7 billion in 2020.
Customer deposits increased by 21 percent, growing from N5.34 trillion in the previous year to N6.47 trillion in the current year. The growth in customer deposits came from both corporate and retail customers. Retail deposits grew by N146 billion from N1.72 trillion in 2020 to N1.87 trillion in 2021.
The group’s continuous drive for retail deposits combined with the strategic rebalancing of its funding base helped to reduce the cost of funding from 2.1 percent to 1.5 percent in the current year. Although operating expenses grew by 13 percent YoY, growth remains below the inflation rate, and the Group improved its Earnings per Share (EPS) which grew by six percent from N7.34 to N7.78.
Total assets increased by 11 percent, growing 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 percent, from N2.9 trillion in 2020 to N3.5 trillion in 2021, with moderated NPL ratio from 4.29 percent to 4.19 percent YoY. The Group recorded impressive liquidity and capital adequacy ratios of 71.6 percent and 21.0 percent, which remained above regulatory thresholds of 30 percent and 15 percent, respectively.