Shareholders of Zenith Bank have lauded Jim Ovia, its outgoing chief executive, who midwifed it from inception 20 years ago to today’s enviable height, and is scheduled to leave office at the end of June this year.
The gathering also approved the bank’s proposal to distribute N11.3 billion as dividend, translating to 45 kobo per share for the 15-month to December 31, 2009, from earnings per share 82 kobo, which they considered impressive. This is particularly so, according to them, at a time some of its peers are offering as little as 10 kobo per share. The bank, they noted, has also offered a bonus of one-for-four for the same period.
Gross earnings income for the period rose by N65.661 billion or 31.025 per cent to N277.3 billion from N211.639 billion in the previous full year, out which interest and similar income stood at N193.545 billion, compared with N138.737 billion previously, while net interest expenses grew to N83.957 billion, up from N53.294 billion. This brought net interest income to N109.588 billion, as against the previous N85.443 billion, just as there was “other income” of about N78.65 billion, up from N68.799 billion.
Profit before tax was however depressed N35.085 billion, representing a decline of about N21.027 billion or 37.47 per cent, while profit attributable to shareholders stood at N20.603 billion, from the previous N51.993 billion. This translates to earnings per share of 82 kobo
Ovia, used the occasion to restate his faith in the ability of Godwin Emefiele, his successor and pioneer staff of the bank and his deputy for the past nine years to guide, the Zenith Group to even greater heights.
“Godwin is a seasoned banker of high integrity with a clear strategic focus and enduring commitment to Zenith Bank,” he assured the meeting in what is his last annual CEO Letter to shareholders, while expressing confidence that the in-coming chief executive “will offer excellent leadership and guide the Group successfully to greater heights.”
“I am confident that under the leadership of Godwin Emefiele, the bank will continue to draw upon its superior people, excellent service culture and continuous deployment of state of the art technology to elevate the Group to greater heights,” he added
The meeting also noted the fact that the bank could offer much more at the end of current year, judging from the equally remarkable first quarter result, indicating a N55.03 billion gross earnings. The result also showed a 12 per cent increase in profit before tax from N11.8bn in March 2009 to 13.2 billion in March 2010, and N9.509 billion net profit.
Reacting to the un-audited first quarter result submitted to the NSE on Monday, market watchers noted that it is a good start for the group and an opportunity to sustain investor confidence.
A breakdown of the first quarter result showed 9 per cent growth in total asset to N1.8 trillion, over the December 2009 level, while capital adequacy stood at 28 per cent (while the bank had 34 per cent), representing almost three times more than the 10 per cent regulatory minimum requirement. Liquidity ratio for the period stood at 48 per cent (while the bank had 59 per cent), almost two times the 25 per cent minimum required by regulation.
Analysts believe that Zenith’s balance sheet is strong enough to propel its planned expansionary activities and also to withstand any adverse event.