By Nkiruka Nnorom
Union Bank of Nigeria (UBN) Plc has recorded N5.4 billion profit before tax, PBT, for the first quarter, Q1, ended March 31, 2018, representing 16 percent increase compared to N4.7 billion recorded in Q1’17.
The first quarter earnings report which was released alongside the audited report for 2017, yesterday, at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) showed that the bank improved on its 2017 commendable performance.
The Q1’18 report and accounts showed that the bank’s gross earnings rose by 15 percent to N39.5 billion from N34.3 billion, while profit after tax, PAT, was up 17 percent to N5.3 billion from N4.5 billion recorded in the same period in 2017.
Also, the bank’s audited report for the year ended December 31, 2017 showed that gross earnings rose by 26 percent to N163.8 billion from N126.6 billion in 2016. Profit before tax was largely flat at N15.5 billion in 2017 as against N15.7 billion in 2016.
Commenting on the report, Mr. Emeka Emuwa, CEO, Union Bank, said the first quarter results reflected the bank’s renewed focus on driving efficiency and productivity with a view to fully leveraging resources including human, technology and new capital to maximize the bottom line.
“While we are just in the early stages of this drive, we are already starting to see positive results,” Emuwa said.
He stated that the top-line performance was driven by improvement in net interest margins from 7.1 percent to 8.7 percent and 18 percent increase in non-interest income due to enhanced trading income and increased volumes on alternate banking channels.
He noted that the bank’s interest income had grown by 14 percent to N31.7 billion in first quarter 2018 as against N27.7 billion in first quarter 2017. Net interest income before impairment increased by 22 percent to N17.8 billion in 2018 compared to N14.6 billion in 2017, driven by 14 percent increase in interest income and a lower six percent increase in interest expense. Non-interest income also rose by 18 per cent from N6.6 billion to N7.8 billion.
Emuwa explained that the group’s non-performing loan ratio had improved to 14.9 percent by March 2018 from 19.8 percent at the beginning of this year, noting that the bank has continued to maintain aggressive focus on its impaired loans and is expected to resolve some large exposures in the course of the year, which will further drive down the ratio.