By Peter Egwuatu
Shareholders of Longman Nigeria Plc have unanimously approved the dividend of 50 kobo per share recommended by its Board of Directors for the financial year ended December 31, 2009.
The shareholders at the 37th Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Lagos on Thursday passed all the resolutions and as well commended the Board and management for the improved performance in the year under review.
Speaking at the AGM, Mr. T.K Sarumi, a member of Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN) said, â€œ We commend the Board and management for the improved result being considered today(Thursday).We also commend the company for executing good corporate governance during the period under review.
The donation given by the company is well deserved but we would be happy if this could be extended to the less privilege in the society. We also would implore other directors who are not having shares in the company to please subscribe to our shares to enable them to be more committed in the discharge of their duties.â€
Mr. Sotunde Sopeju also joined others to commend the Board and management for the dividend declared despite the harsh operating environment.
According to him, â€œ More needs to be done to reward shareholders as the share capital, premium and general reserve are getting higher. Instead of paying us small dividend we would be glad if bonus is given to us next year especially when the company knows it cannot pay dividend of N1.00 per share.â€
Mr. Adebayo Adeleke, National Secretary, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN) commended the companyâ€™s performance.
He said, â€œ The result we are passing today is very beautiful and progressive. The company has not only triple the quantum of shares but has given dividend that is even higher than what some banks have declared. We appreciate the gesture and even the appointment of new directors to the company. However, there is need for the company to do a revaluation of its assets. We need to have a standing order of valuation.
This will help our assets not to be under valued. We need to have a proper and clear valuation policy. Also, there is need to grow our business as our turnover dropped during the period under review. The geographical distribution of our product need to be reappraised. In the northern part of our country the sales is dropping. So management need to find out why the sales is dropping and be able to find solutions to remedy it. This will go a long way to impact on the turnover.
Responding to shareholdersâ€™ comments, the Chairman of Longman Nigeria Plc, Mr. E.I. Ijewere commended the shareholders for their useful contributions toward the growth of the company.
According to him, â€œ I am really impressed by the comments and encomium poured on the Board and management. We would do our best to reward our shareholders.
The company would do better because we would be doing more business other than publishing. The company is Nigeriaâ€™s largest educational publisher with the widest range of books and educational resources and the most expansive distribution network. For this reason the company markets a whole range of books under well known Pearson Imprints.â€
The company posted a turnover of N3.877 billion, a decrease of 16.31 per cent from the N4.632 billion in 2008. Operating profit before tax rose by 9.9 per cent to N1.112 billion from N1.012 billion. Shareholdersâ€™ funds increased by 10.03 from N3.227 billion in 2008 to N3.551 billion in 2009, while total assets rose by 5.7 per cent to N5.355 billion from N5.066 billion in 2008.