Shareholders of FBN Holdings Plc on Tuesday approved the total dividend of N8.97 billion recommended by the board for the financial year ended Dec. 31, 2017.
The shareholders gave the approval at the company’s sixth Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Lagos.
Our correspondent reports that the dividend translated to 25k per share against N7.18 billion or 20k per share paid in the 2016 financial year.
Speaking at the meeting, Mr Sunny Nwosu, the National Coordinator Emeritus, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), commended the board and management for the dividend and stability in the company in the past three years.
Nwosu said the shareholders appreciated the dividend, though small, considering the unfriendly operating environment and impairment charge during the year under review.
He also lauded the company for making significant process in reducing the non-performing loan (NPL) to 22.8 per cent against 24.4 per cent in 2016.
Nwosu tasked the management to ensure further reduction in NPL in the current financial year to boost dividend pay-out through various strategies.
He called on shareholders to embrace the e-dividend payment platform to reduce the company’s unclaimed dividends presently at N6.34 billion.
Nwosu said shareholders should not allow their money to be wasted but should claim their dividends.
Mrs Bisi Bakare, National Coordinator, Pragmatic Shareholders Association of Nigeria, commended the board and management for the improvement in the company’s performance indices.
“The problem we faced in the past is today history, we are now able to pay dividend. It might be small but better than none,” Bakare said.
Responding, Dr Adesola Adeduntan, the Managing Director, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, said the bank at various levels was committed to recovering loans.
Adeduntan said the bank had recovery and remedial committee at the board level to strengthen the traditional loan recovery team.
He said one of the bank’s biggest NPL on its book was now performing, noting that the bank would remain committed to loan recovery.
“Not one kobo that is due to us will be left on the table, we are chasing all our debtors,” Adeduntan said.
According to him, the board and management had strengthened various risk controls in the bank aimed at lowering risk appetite.
Mr UK Eke, Group Managing Director, FBN Holdings, told the shareholders that the company had made great progress in the past three years.
“We are not where we should be but we have made progress, NPL has dropped.
“We are seeing recovery, better valuations and rewrite backs into the books,” Eke said.
He said the dividend approved by the shareholders came from the company’s other subsidiaries, noting that the banking subsidiary did not contribute anything for strategic reasons.
Eke explained that the company was targeting cost of risk of below five per cent in the current financial year and less than two per cent in 2019.
Our correspondent reports that the company recorded gross earnings of N595. 4 billion against N581. 8 billion in 2016, an increase of 2.3 per cent.
Its profit before tax stood at N56. 8 billion in contrast with N22.9 billion in 2016, representing a growth of 147.6 per cent.