By Charles Abuede
Tony Elumelu, the chairman of the Nigeria-headquartered pan-African financial institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, has told the bank’s shareholders to expected greater returns on their shareholdings in the months ahead.
Elumelu’s confidence is hinged on the bank of the establishment by the bank of a diversified business model that ensures impressive performance even in periods of uncertainty, across its geographical network.
He told shareholders last Thursday in Lagos at the 59th annual general meeting held at UBA Head Office explaining that the bank has made strategic decisions that will strengthen its resolve to earn the industry leadership that it has envisioned in Nigeria, Africa and globally.
“We spearheaded strategic investments in our digital banking and technology platforms to further promote self-service banking; we have also focused on enhancing the capabilities of our people through various online capacity development programmes,” Elumelu added, “Our African operations (ex-Nigeria) have contributed approximately 55% of our profits for the year, illustrating that we are truly a pan-African bank,” he told the shareholders.
He further explained that the bank remains committed to ensuring its viability amid an ever-changing business environment and to continue be a role model for African businesses by showcasing the best of Africa to the world. “The work we have done in strengthening our governance structures Group-wide and in improving our business and operating models in 2020 positions our bank to benefit from these recovery trends and to achieve significant market share gains across our operations,” said Elumelu.
At the end of the 2020 financial year, UBA’s profits grew remarkably by 27.7 percent to N113.8 billion, compared to N89.1 billion recorded at the end of the 2019 financial year, whilst profit before tax was impressive at N131.9 billion, compared to N111.3 billion at the end of the 2019 financial year.
Gross earnings grew by 10.8 percent to N620.4 billion, compared to N559.8 billion recorded in the same period of 2019 whilst total assets also grew by 5.6 percent to an unprecedented N7.7 trillion for the year under review.
In its usual tradition of rewarding shareholders, the bank proposed a final dividend of N0.35 kobo for every ordinary share of 50 kobo, bringing the total dividend for the year to N0.52 kobo as the bank had paid an interim dividend of N0.17 kobo earlier in the year.
Shareholders at the meeting commended the bank’s decision to plough-back some of its profits into business consolidation, adding that these times call for prudent and effective management of financial resources for all businesses especially those with high shareholding rate such as UBA.
One of the shareholders, Sir Sunny Nwosu, who spoke at the meeting, commended the board and management of the bank company for keeping up with its activities despite the Covid-19 pandemic and its resultant effect on major businesses.
Whilst advising the company to gear up efforts to increase dividends in the next financial year, Nwosu praised UBA’s for ensuring that the African subsidiaries performed well by contributing 55% to the Group’s business.
Another shareholder, Nonah Awoh, who agreed with the improvement recorded from the bank’s Ex-Nigeria’s subsidiaries, encouraged the management to boost other subsidiaries with the needed resources to help them perform even better in the current financial year.
Kennedy Uzoka, the bank’s group managing director, who responded to shareholders’ comments at the meeting spoke on the reduced dividend pay-out this year, explaining that the bank had decided to be conservative to further strengthen the business.
He said: “As an institution that has been in operations for 72 uninterrupted years, UBA wants to continue to perform optimally. In line with this, we have used most of our funds to prepare for unforeseen challenges. Given the trajectory and the resilience of our business, we can assure you that we will meet and surpass the expectation of you our shareholders.”
Continuing, he said: “We have recalibrated our business structure, starting from Lagos and extending to the South-South. We have bolstered them with the necessary leadership to achieve our aim. We believe that with these measures we have put in place, our Nigerian business will give the rest of Africa a good fight”.
United Bank for Africa Plc is a leading Pan-African financial institution, offering banking services to more than twenty-one million customers, across over 1,000 business offices and customer touch points. Operating in 20 African countries with presence in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and France, UBA is connecting people and businesses across Africa through retail; commercial and corporate banking; innovative cross-border payments and remittances; trade finance and ancillary banking services