By Michael Eboh
GTBank Plc has announced its plans to further expand its operations into the West African sub-region, with specific emphasis on the Francophone speaking countries in the region.
Speaking during its annual general meeting in Lagos, Wednesday, Chairman of the Bank, Owelle Gilbert Chikelu stated that despite the crisis in the global financial landscape, the bank will continually pursue its growth plans, focusing on improving its presence in the foreign market, using African as the launching pad.
He said, â€œWith the CBN poised to improve liquidity in the economy, coupled with governmentâ€™s propensity to spend liberally ahead of the general elections, the bank is well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities that will arise, while being very conscious of and taking adequate steps to mitigate whatever risks that may arise therefrom.
â€œWe will continue to focus on our core business and significantly seek creative avenues to meet and surpass the demands of our rising retail clientele. Across the group, we will seek to expand into new frontiers, especially into Francophone\ West Africa.
â€œNotwithstanding the daunting odds we may encounter in the course of doing business, we will forge ahead, stake our claim in foreign markets, serve as yardstick in the African market, and continually seek to excel in all that we do.
Meanwhile, shareholders of the bank has approved its N0.75 dividend and bonus of one ordinary share for every four shares for its 2009 financial year.
The shareholders commended the management of the bank for their effort in efficiently and effectively running the affairs of the bank despite the challenges in the economic landscape of the country.
Mr. Boniface Okezie, National Coordinator, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria (PSAN) expressed satisfaction with the state of affairs in the bank especially for abiding by strict corporate governance principles.
He berated the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for its reforms programmes which failed to take into consideration the plight of shareholders and the economy in general.
He said, â€œWe commend the management of the bank for their prudent management of the affairs of the banks, in spite of the reforms of the CBN, which has impacted negatively on the economy and which is causing untold hardship for shareholders.
â€œShareholders are suffering because of the CBNâ€™s reforms. The reforms should have a human face and should begin from the apex bank itself.â€
Speaking in the same vein, Mr. Farouk Umar, President, Association for the Advancement of the Rights of Shareholders commended the staff of the banks for their dedication and commitment to duty, especially as it has led to a significant reduction in bad debts in the bank.
He called on the CBN to grant waivers to certain banks with good financial standing whose management and Board members have attained the number of years stipulated in the directive on tenure limits for officers of banks.
He said that the CBN should give the banks a one or two_year grace period to put things in place and groom upcoming managers who are expected to take over from them.
The bank in its 2009 financial statement, recorded a gross earnings of N162.55 billion, rising by 62 per cent from N100.61 billion recorded in 2008, its profit before tax, however, dipped by 21 per cent to N27.96 billion from N35.33 billion in 2008, while its profit after tax dropped by 16 per cent to N23.69 billion from N28.32 billion recorded in 2008.