By Peter Egwuatu
Shareholders ofÂ Guinness Nigeria Plc, yesterday unanimously approved the N11.1 billion dividend declared by the Board of Directors of the company, even as they requested for a bonus issue.
The shareholders at the 59th Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Lagos on Tuesday, approved the financial statement of Guinness Nigeria for the period ended 30th June, 2009.
Shareholders hailed the impressive performance of the company, but frowned at the inability of the Board to declare bonus issue after over three years.
Speaking at the meeting, National Coordinator, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Sir Sunny Nwosu, who spoke the minds of shareholders present, said, â€œ We commend the Board of Directors and management for the good performance recorded by the company despite the harsh operating environment during the period under review. Nevertheless, there are some areas that need to be improved upon. The performance indicators ratio for the year under review are lesser than the previous year. Our shareholdersâ€™ fund has dropped. There is high overhead expenses such as administrative expenses, distributive expenses, interest expenses etc. The Board has not declared any bonus issue despite the companyâ€™s tradition of declaring bonus shares every three years.
â€œ So we are hopeful that by next year the company should be able to declare bonus shares to shareholders.â€
According to one of the shareholders who spoke at the meeting, â€œ It is noteworthy that despite the global crisis and harsh operating environment, Guinness Nigeriaâ€™s share price remained stable throughout the period. The companyâ€™s performance indicators, like turnover, profitability and even dividend were all positive. The results further help to entrench the recognition of Guinness Nigeria Plc as a leading player in the Nigerian economy.â€
The Chairman of Guinness Nigeria, Mr. Babatunde Savage in its statement to the shareholders commended the shareholders for their loyalty and support in moving the company forward.
According to him, â€œ Guinness Nigeria remains a strong and stable company with impressive performance and great heritage.â€ This, he noted is reflected in the results of the company performance during the period under review.
He further stated that all the grey areas identified by some of the shareholders at the meeting will be looked into and addressed accordingly.
Specifically, the company recorded a turnover of N89 billion, representing an increase of 29 per cent over the previous year. Trading profit grew by 25 per cent to N19.81 billion, while earnings per share also increased by 14 per cent to 918 kobo. Profit Before Tax (PBT) was up by 11 per cent to N19 billion, while Profit After Tax (PAT) increased by 14.2 per cent from N11.861 billion to N13.541 billion.
Savage, further disclosed that during the period under review, Guinness received recognition for its performance in many other areas. These include the completion of water projects in over 6 communities in different states in Nigeria, ISO 14000 certification, making Guinness Nigeria the only beer company in Nigeria to achieve such certification.