Sterling Bank Plc shareholders on Thursday commended the bank’s financial performance and dividend payout for the financial year ended Dec. 31, 2019.
The shareholders gave the commendation at the bank’s 58th Annual General Meeting (AGM held virtually by proxy and streamed live from the MUSON Centre in Lagos.
Speaking at the meeting, Mr Boniface Okezie, National Coordinator, Progressive Shareholders Association, lauded the bank’s board, management and entire workforce for their hard work.
“We are constrained by COVID-19 and cannot roll out the drums to celebrate the achievement of our bank today.
“All the same, we thank the board and management for the impressive outing in 2019 and the dividend recommendation.
“Looking at performance highlights, the bank has done a lot to grow our assets to N1.182 trillion.
“Loans and advances have also grown, operating income has grown, and our deposit base should hit N1 trillion by next year.
“We commend the board for retaining earnings, protecting shareholders’ funds, and ensuring there is no insider abuse as it relates to loans.
“We are happy that our bank is at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 and keeping the environment clean through its support for LAWMA,” Okezie said.
Mr Sunny Nwosu, National Coordinator Emeritus of the Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), appreciated the increase in the bank’s demand deposit which went up by 47 per cent and described it as “quite good.”
Nwosu appreciated the way employees of the bank attend to customers and expressed the hope that such excellent service delivery would continue to differentiate it post-COVID-19.
Mr Mathew Akinlade, President, Noble Solidarity Shareholders Association (NSSA), also commended the bank for bringing down its Non-Performing Loans (NPL) ratio from 8.7 per cent in 2018 to 2.2 per cent in 2019.
Akinlade noted that the NPL was below the benchmark of five per cent prescribed by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
He lauded the bank for compliance which reduced penalties for contraventions in 2019 by 73.3 per cent when compared with 2018.
Addressing the shareholders at the meeting, Mr Asue Ighodalo, the bank’s Chairman, said its shareholders’ fund grew by 22.2 per cent to N119.6 billion.
He said this was because of increase in retained earnings, despite the challenging operating environment under which it operated during the review period.
Ighodalo said the rise in total equity was attributable to growth in comprehensive income arising from gains recorded from investments in debt securities.
He said that the Board of Directors recognised the importance of dividends to its shareholders and constantly sought to balance this with capital requirements to support the bank’s next wave of growth.
“Accordingly, the Board recommends the payment of 3k per share as dividend for the year ended Dec. 31, 2019 to reward our loyal and committed shareholders.
“This affords the bank the required buffer to finance its growth ambitions, and effectively become a first-class, stronger, creative and extremely dependable financial institution,” Ighodalo said.
The chairman said the bank consolidated its efforts in the mobilisation of deposits during the review period, thereby recording a 17.4 per cent growth in deposit base to N893 billion from N761 billion in 2018.
In his comments, the bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Suleiman Abubakar, noted that, “For a bank to succeed in these uncertain times, it must be agile, cautious, innovative, knowledgeable and prepared.”
He said that the bank’s unwavering commitment to a more disciplined deployment of scarce capital and the strength of its retail business contributed to a 15 per cent growth in profit after tax to N10.6 billion.