By Providence Obuh
Shareholders ofÂ Zenith Bank Plc, Tuesday, at the bankâ€™s Annual General Meeting (AGM) approved payment of a dividend payout of 45 kobo per share amounting to N11.3 billion and a bonus of one ordinary share for every four ordinary shares.
Following what many considered an excellent performance in a difficult period, the board of the bank had proposed the dividend and bonus issues as reward for shareholders, many of who yesterday paid glowing tribute to Jim Ovia, outgoing Managing Director of the bank for steering the bank from its modest beginning 20 years ago to its present height.
Zenith recently announced a a pre-tax profit of N35 billion. During the year under review, the Zenith group recorded gross revenue of N 277 billion up from N211 billion representing a 31% revenue growth from previous year indicating an increasing dominance of the Zenith brand in market and has followed it up with an equally remarkable first quarter result that showed a N55 billion gross earnings for the period ending March 2001.
The first quarter result released in Lagos on Monday also showed a 12 per cent increase in profit before tax from N11.8bn in March 2009 to 13.2bn in March 2010. Observers who spoke on the Q1 performance after it was announced on the Nigerian Stock Exchange said it was is no doubt a good start for the group in sustaining the shareholders and investors confidence it has always enjoyed. Detailed analysis of the results showed a robust asset position of N1.8 trillion representing a 9% increase from December 2009.
With a capital adequacy of 28 per cent (Bank: 34 per cent), almost three times the 10 per cent regulatory minimum requirement and liquidity ratio of 48 per cent (Bank: 59 per cent), almost two times the 25 per cent minimum required by regulation, analysts believe that Zenithâ€™s balance sheet is strong enough to propel its planned expansionary activities and also to withstand any adverse event.
Zenith Bank is known to have benefited from attracting low cost deposits through expansion of retail branch network and deployment of ICT channels for more efficient services delivery remains the strategic focus of the group.
Managing Director, Jim Ovia used the platform of the AGM to restate his faith in the ability of Emefiele to guide the Zenith Group to even greater heights. Ovia is leaving a bank he guided from a small start up to a financial powerhouse in August.
â€œOur Board of Directors has formally announced my successor, Godwin Emefiele who is a pioneer staff of the Bank.Â He has been the Deputy Managing Director of the Bank for the past nine years.Â Godwin is a seasoned banker of high integrity with a clear strategic focus and enduring commitment to Zenith Bank.
I am confident he will offer excellent leadership and guide the Group successfully to greater heights,â€ Ovia said in what is his last Annual CEO Letter to the shareholders.
â€œI 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,â€ he added