Shareholders of United Bank for Africa (UBA), have applauded the bank’s 2018 performance, even as they approved total dividend of N29.9 billion paid from the 2018 financial year.
The shareholders, who spoke at the bank’s 2018 yearly general meeting in Lagos, on Tuesday, also berated the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on the huge amount slammed on banks as fees and penalties, which ultimately impacts negatively on the bank’s bottom-line.
Specifically, the President, Association for the Advancement of the Rights of Nigerian Shareholders, Dr Faruk Umar, lauded the management for the hard work, tenacity and commitment to the group’s growth, noting that members are fulfilling the vision of the founders and past leaders of UBA in creating a truly Pan-African bank.He noted that the feat that UBA has achieved on the African continent would be difficult for any other bank of Nigerian origin to replicate.He said: “I want to specially commend the Management of UBA under the leadership of the Group Managing Director/CEO, Kennedy Uzoka, for his selfless commitment and hard work towards building an enduring institution that we and future generations can be proud of.”
Also speaking, a shareholder, Nona Awoh, urged the management to reduce the level of its unclaimed dividend to the barest minimum.
Awoh said the CBN has slammed up to N1.7 trillion on three banks in the past few years. “They take the money at no interest. In 2018 alone, UBA paid N64 billion as fine to CBN. CBN should go back home and check itself; it is not fair. This kind of heavy amount of fine cannot be mentioned in a civilised clime.”
The Group Chairman, Tony Elumelu, congratulated shareholders over the upgrade of operations in the United Kingdom, and formal opening of the Mali business, adding that the team in both countries are set to change the narrative of banking that strengthen the earnings and growth trajectory of the Group, through their respective positive contributions.
He said: “We are optimistic about the policy environment in most African economies, where we operate, as we expect diligent implementation of fiscal policies to help stimulate inclusive economic growth, ease macro pressures and lower the cost of doing business. I am very optimistic that we will sustain the strong growth trajectory, as we continue to gain market share across Africa, leveraging our core values of enterprise, excellence and execution.”
On his part, Uzoka, promised shareholders that the team would do more in the coming year, noting that the UBA Group has one of the highest capital adequacy ratios in the industry, as its BASEL II CAR stands at 24% as at December 31, 2018. This reinforces its capacity to support customers at all times and demonstrating the Group’s capacity to grow over the medium term.
He said: “We are on a new cost optimisation journey, and we are diligent in executing far-reaching cost-efficient initiatives, which will complement our revenue growth drive in moderating the cost-to-income ratio towards our desired target. Ultimately, we look forward to delivering superior returns to shareholders in the years ahead.”
He added: “We have worked hard towards connecting Africa and the world through our presence in key African markets and major global financial centres such as New York, London, and Paris. We are now well-positioned to extract the immense synergy opportunities within our Group, with the ultimate objective of creating superior and sustainable wealth to shareholders.”
In spite of the slow recovery in economic activities in Nigeria, the bank’s single largest market, the Group’s total assets grew by 19.7 per cent, driven largely by a strong deposit growth of 24 per cent, as the drive for retail deposits continues to yield desired results. “Leveraging on enhanced customer service, the Group grew retail deposits by 48 per cent, thus strengthening the funding base, and providing the foundation for lower cost of funds in 2019.”For the year ended December 31, 2018, UBA’s gross earnings grew by 7.0 per cent to N494.0 billion, compared to N461.6 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2017. Total assets also grew significantly by 19.7 per cent to an unprecedented N4.9 trillion.