On June 25, 2018 I woke up to yet another social media trend – a news story with the bold and quite salacious headline “How Safe Are Customer Deposits At FCMB?”had taken over the digital airwaves. Between the shares and likes and comments, a storm in a cup had brewed to great proportions in a matter of hours. Yet again, a demonstration that the basic ethics of responsible journalism and ethical reporting have been thrown away in business and, indeed, everyday life.
In writing the article, the author had made detailed reference to alleged cases of fraud involving staff of FCMB and went ahead to imply that perhaps the bank’s depositors funds are unsafe.
It is quite of great concern to see so-called professionals go to town with such alarming headlines, with the full knowledge that most
Nigerians will not bother to read the actual details. It is indeed of greater concern that this sort of material was released in the way it was, when by his own admission, the author had received specific information from the bank about its financial performance and ability to remain a growth driven and existentially sustainable institution.
I do not have an account with FCMB, neither am I in any way connected to the bank or its principals. I, however, do have the simple capacity to read between the lines and remove chaff from substance.
In the first place, for FCMB to have increased its shares in Legacy Pension to make it a full-fledged subsidiary as reported in this article, it means the bank is forward-thinking and focused on both diversifying and improving its service offerings and earnings. That’s a bold move, when you consider that the Pensions industry in Nigeria has the potential to be bigger than the banking industry in another decade or so.
But even more interesting is the fact that by his very own article, the author admitted that FCMB’s deposits grew to N689.9billion as at the end of December 2017, an increase of 5%, from N657.6billion in the corresponding year. Do customers increase their deposit in a bank they have fears over or which is on the brink? Is it not only logical that customers are only likely to increase deposits in a bank where they enjoy good service and feel at home? For a fact, I know that the KPMG Banking Industry Customer Satisfaction Survey 2017 placed FCMB in 5th position in the entire Nigerian banking industry in Retail Banking, SME Banking and Wholesale Banking. That’s no mean feat when you take into account the number of operators in the industry.
I think what stumped me the most is the fact that by his own article, the author let us in on key financial metrics of FCMB, including the fact that FCMB reported a gross revenue of N169.9 billion and a profit before tax (PBT) of N11.5billion, while profit after tax (PAT) was N9.4billion.
At face value, it seems to me that the author for reasons best known to him or her was determined to demarket FCMB and portray it in the most negative light possible. I do not dispute the possibility that there were some fraudulent activities – afterall, there is no smoke without fire and that tends to ring through more in Nigeria than elsewhere. However, this is an industry challenge – the Managing Director of the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) Adebisi Shonubi (who a few weeks ago was nominated a Deputy Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank) recently shared some startling statistics on fraud in Nigeria’s banking industry, revealing the number of reported fraud cases in Nigerian Banks had steadily risen from 1,461 in 2014 to 10,743 in 2015, 19,531 in 2016 and 25,043 in 2017. It has been argued that frauds in the Banks are not alien. In the United States of America it has been said, with compromised credit cards and data breaches often in the news in the past couple of years, fraud is top of mind with many people.
This deliberate attempt to demarket FCMB for reasons best known to the author also brings to mind the most recent attack on GTBank over the Innoson case.
It is not to be forgotten how earlier this month, social media went agog with news that a court had directed GTBank to pay 12 billion naira to Innoson Group, one of its clients with whom it has had a long-standing court battle. The misleading reports on social media had extremely sensational headlines such as “Court Orders GTBank To Pay 14bn To Innoson”; “GTBank Must Pay Innoson 14Bn Within 14 Days”; “GTBank In Trouble As Court Orders Payment of 14bn to Innoson”.
It was such a terrible jamboree on social media that there were certain broadcasts sent across Whatsapp and other social media asking people to withdraw their funds from GTBank immediately, on the premise that the bank would go bankrupt after payment of N14bn to Innoson. Of course, Nigerians will not pause to ask whether paying N14bn in settlement can actually cripple a bank that is widely considered Nigeria’s biggest bank brand and clearly, one of the most solid financial behemoths within the African continent. Nobody stops to ponder. The fact that this latest melee was a result of seemingly deliberate attempts to smear the GTBank brand raises more suspicion about the recent publication on the same online platforms questioning the safety of depositors funds with FCMB.
The GTBank vs Innoson saga has so terribly deteriorated on the account of sensational journalism and reportage, that it has taken an ugly ethnic dimension amongst the unlearned. Thus, on various online communities and platforms in Nigeria, you see Nigerians taking sides on the basis of GTBank being a “Yoruba company” and Innoson being an “Igbo company”. What a sad reality for a nation!
First Bank of Nigeria also witnessed the harsh and merciless bite of sensational reporting when recently there was commotion over the contempt judgement against the Bank and some of its key officials in the case Chief Isaac Osaro Agbara & 9 Ors. v. Shell Petroleum Development Ltd, Shell International Petroleum Ltd and Shell International Exploration and Production BV. Before fact could be removed from fiction, so many broadcasts and “breaking news” articles had surfaced online, all leading with headlines that were designed to damage and not just state the facts.
To make progress as a country and support businesses to thrive, this approach must be arrested. Must we sensationalize everything just so we can earn readership and our 5 minutes of fame, to the detriment of businesses and companies that provide livelihood for thousands of families across Nigeria? I think not.
Even where we need to address real matters arising, surely, the reporting can be more facts-based and less about blackmail and demarketing. As my Yoruba friends have a saying in their language “Even if they sent you on the errand as a slave, deliver the message as a free born”. Crying wolf falsely too many times has serious downsides. Social media credibility is extremely important for the dissemination of relevant, topical, up to date and authentic information. Using it constantly as a vehicle to settle scores, blackmail and seek for attention will ultimately harm the reputation of not only the charlatans in that field but also the real professionals. The fake news toga will be cast on all. That will be a big shame. Freedom presupposes responsibility. Freedom devoid of responsibility is excessive liberty.
These institutions need protection and we really need to stop portraying ourselves to the rest of the world as people always thinking of fraud and sleight of hand strategies to make ill-gotten wealth. There are many honest and hardworking people all over Nigeria. We deserve better than these constant sensational but fake so called ‘investigative’ write ups.
*Emefulenwanne Ibeayoka is a public analyst writing from Abuja
AGM 2019: Zenith Bank Declares N2.50 Dividends
Shareholders of Zenith Bank have approved the proposal of the board to pay a final dividend of N2.50k per share as dividends for the 2018 financial year.
The shareholders gave the approval at the 28th Annual General Meeting of the bank in Lagos.
The directors proposed a final dividend of N2.50 per share in addition to the N0.30 per share paid as interim dividend amounting to N2.80 per share, as against the N2.70 per share in 2017.
The bank earmarked N87.91 billion for total dividend payment to shareholders for 2018 financial year as against N84.77 billion paid in 2017.
The Chairman of the bank, Mr Jim Ovia, said that the bank remained committed to delivering superior returns to its much valued shareholders by ensuring that a good chunk of its profits was set aside for shareholders.
“In clear demonstration of this, we had declared and paid an interim dividend of 30 kobo per share in the course of the 2018 financial year.
“We hereby propose a final dividend of 250 kobo per share. If approved, this will bring the total dividend for the year ended Dec. 31, 2018 to 280 kobo per share as against 270 kobo per share that was paid in the previous year.”
Speaking further on the financial results, Ovia said that 2018 was challenging year for all operators in the Nigerian banking industry.
He said the bank was able to fully exploit the opportunities within the environment to record a performance that attested to its durability and resilience as a brand.
“Clearly, the results are once again, a reflection of the exceptional financial of the exceptional financial health of the bank and the group.
“For the bank, total deposit was N2.82 trillion for the year ended December 31, 2018, representing a 2.9 per cent increase over the previous year’s figure of N2.74 trillion.
“Profit Before Tax rose by 13.6 per cent from N169 billion in 2017 to N192 billion in 2018.
“Profit-After- Tax similarly rose by 7.8 per cent from N153 billion in 2017 to N165 billion in 2018.
“During the same period, total assets of the bank grew by 2.7 per cent from N4.83 trillion to N4.96 trillion, while shareholders’ fund declined by 3 3 per cent from N698 billion to N675 billion.
“Gross earnings similarly declined by 0.2 per cent from N674 billion in year 2017 to N538 billion in 2018.”
Also as a group, Ovia said that the performance indices were no less remarkable.
According to him, the Group’s profit before tax grew by 16.6 per cent from N199 billion in year 2017 to N232 billion in 2018.
“Profit-after-tax grew by 10.9 per cent during the period from N174 billion in 2017 to N193 billion in 2018 while customer customers’ deposit grew by 7.3 per cent during the same period from N3.44 trillion to an3.69 trillion.
“Group shareholders’ fund grew by 0.5 per cent from N812 billion in 2017 to N816 billion in 2018, gross earnings dropped by 15.4 per cent from N745 billion in 2017 to N630 billion in 2018,” he said.
The Zenith Bank Managing Director, Mr Peter Amangbo, said the bank’s drive toward entrenching sustainable principle in its business operations gained further momentum in the year under review.
Amangbo said the bank would continue to place a high premium on developing a robust risk management framework which had helped in promoting the soundness of the financial institution in protecting its assets and ensuring its growth.
“We are committed to entrenching a robust enterprise risk management, global best practices in corporate governance and sustainability in the coming year,” he said. (NAN)
Shareholders Laud Transcorp Hotels Plc For Impressive Performance, Approve 15k Per Share As Dividend
The Shareholders of Africa’s leading hospitality brand, Transcorp Hotels Plc, have extolled the Company for its impressive financial results for the year ended December 31, 2018. The congratulatory remarks were made at the Company’s 5th Annual General Meeting, which took place at the Congress Hall of the iconic Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.
Following the company’s 26% increase in turnover, the Shareholders have unanimously endorsed a final dividend of ₦1.14bn for the 2018 financial year. The final dividend translated to 15kobo per ordinary share, which is a 20% improvement over the 12kobo per ordinary share for 2017.
Speaking on the Company’s growth milestones, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Mr. Emmanuel N. Nnorom said “Transcorp Hotels Plc has exceeded the bar with an impressive turnover of ₦17.4billion from ₦13.8billion recorded in 2017, representing an improvement of 26%. This is an unprecedented achievement in the history of the Company. It is a further demonstration of our ability to adapt quickly to a changing business environment while keeping pace with global best standards in hospitality.” The Chairman also thanked the Shareholders for their continued support and faith in the Board and Management of the Company.
Commending the company for its overall performance, Patrick Ajudua, President, New Dimension Shareholders Association said that Transcorp Hotels Plc is an embodiment of what privatisation in Nigeria should be. He further stated that good Corporate Governance and the presence of a focused Management team who are concerned with giving returns to shareholders are some underlying factors behind the company’s continued success.
The Managing Director/CEO, Mrs. Owen Omogiafo reiterated the company’s commitment to quality and global standard customer experience, drawing on the varied international awards conferred on the Company. She said “We are redefining the hospitality landscape in Africa and positioning our continent as a preferred destination for local and international tourists. Our numerous awards and recognition are proof of this.”
On the prospects for 2019, Mrs. Omogiafo noted that “Transcorp Hotels will continue to leverage on its unique value proposition and proven strategies to exceed 2018 performance.” She further said that growth and efficiency underpinned by a strong culture of service excellence and cost optimization will drive the company.
UBA Earnings Hits N494bn, Records Significant Asset Growth, Driven By Market Share Gains Across Africa
The Pan-African financial institution, United Bank for Africa Plc has announced its Audited 2018 Financial Results with impressive growths achieved across major financial lines.
According to the 2018 financials filed at the Nigerian Stock Exchange on Tuesday, the Africa’s global bank’s gross earnings grew by 7.0 percent to N494.0 billion, compared to N461.6 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2017. The Bank’s total assets also grew significantly by 19.7 percent to an unprecedented N4.9 trillion for the year under review.
These results, according to financial analysts largely demonstrates the benefits of the Group’s Pan-African footprints with continued growth in market share in key countries of operation across Africa. The contributions of ex-Nigeria subsidiaries at 40 percent, again confirms the strong footing of the Group’s franchise in Africa.
Despite the challenging business environments in Nigeria and across key markets in Africa, the Bank’s Profit Before Tax was quite impressive at N106.8 billion, a 2.4 percent growth, compared to N104.2 billion in 2017 financial year. In same vein, the Profit After Tax rose by 1.4 percent to N78.6 billion, compared to N77.5 billion recorded in 2017. Due to lower foreign exchange trading income, Operating Expenses grew by 4.1 percent to N197.3 billion, compared to N189.7 billion in 2017
Reflecting the modest appetite of the Bank in the year under review as well as impact of IFRS 9 implementation, net loans recorded a prudent 3.9 percent growth to N1.72 trillion while Customer Deposits increased by a remarkable 22.5 percent to N3.3 trillion, compared to N2.7 trillion recorded in the corresponding period of 2017, reflecting increased customer confidence and enhanced service channels. Furthermore, Shareholders’ Funds decreased marginally by 4.8 percent to N502.6 billion, reflecting the impact of International Financial Reporting Standards 9 (IFRS 9) implementation.
Commenting on the result, the Group Managing Director/CEO, Kennedy Uzoka noted that the year 2018 was important for the Group, as it gained further market share in many countries of operation. More so, the CEO was excited at strategic achievements made in the year, including the start of wholesale banking operations in London, as it seeks to leverage the Group’s unique network across Africa. UBA also opened its 20th African operation.
“Defying the relatively weak economic growth in Africa, earnings were positive and we grew our balance sheet by 20 percent, driven by the 23 percent growth in our deposit funding. In a period of economic uncertainty, we have focused on retail deposit mobilization, with exciting results. We recorded a 48 percent year-on-year growth in retail deposits and improved our CASA ratio to 77 percent, optimizing our funding mix, which will enhance our net interest margin (NIM), over the medium term,” Uzoka said.
Uzoka remained confident that the Bank’s performance would be even stronger in the years ahead and shareholders would enjoy even greater dividends, as the Group is well positioned to take advantage of imminent fiscal reforms across many economies in Africa, a positive outlook which should stimulate new opportunities in infrastructure, manufacturing, agriculture and resource sectors.
He continued: “Our operations in the United Kingdom now offer end-to-end trade, treasury, structured finance, wholesale deposit taking and ancillary services. With this development, we are better positioned to fulfill our aspiration of deepening trade and capital flows between Europe and Africa. We are also pleased with the market acceptance of our new operation in Mali”.
“Having said this, I am excited by the profitability of our ex-Nigeria subsidiaries, which now contributes an impressive 40 percent earnings to the Group. At the moment, our Nigerian business is benefiting from our product and operational focus, gaining market share – most importantly, the increasing penetration of our retail offerings is reassuring, as this fundamental progress aligns with our strategy of focusing on sustainable growth”.
“With great optimism, we look forward to a more rewarding 2019 for our shareholders, as we further sweat our resources and optimize productivity towards delivering superior returns,” he concluded.
Also speaking on the performance, the Group CFO, Ugo Nwaghodoh said that the improving mix of the Bank’s funding base and asset pricing, reinforce a positive outlook on Net Interest Margin(NIM) and broader balance sheet efficiency.
“Whilst considerable investment in people, digital transformation and channel enhancement masked cost efficiency gains within the year, with cost-to-income ratio at 64 percent, we are convinced that our diligent execution of new initiatives will ensure the reduction of Cost to Income Ratio(CIR) towards our medium-term target. Our balance sheet is being positioned to take full advantage of market swings and our strong 25 percent capital adequacy ratio provides headroom for growth, even under a BASEL III scenario. As it stands, UBA has started the year on a good note and should sustain the momentum, as we work towards improving our Return on Average Equity (RoAE),” Nwaghodoh said.
United Bank for Africa Plc is a leading pan-African financial services group, operating in 20 African countries, as well as the United Kingdom, the United States of America and with presence in France.
UBA was incorporated in Nigeria as a limited liability company after taking over the assets of the British and French Bank Limited who had been operating in Nigeria since 1949. The United Bank for Africa merged with Standard Trust Bank in 2005 and from a single country operation founded in 1949 in Nigeria – Africa’s largest economy – UBA has become one of the leading providers of banking and other financial services on the African continent. The Bank which was awarded the Best Digital Bank in Africa by the Euromoney awards in 2018, provides services to over 17 million customers globally, through one of the most diverse service channels in sub-Saharan Africa, with over 1,000 branches and customer touch points and robust online and mobile banking platforms.
The shares of UBA are publicly traded on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and the Bank has a well-diversified shareholder base, which includes foreign and local institutional investors, as well as individual shareholders.
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