Shareholders of Fidelity Bank on Friday unanimously approved the payment of a total dividend of N3.19 billion declared by the board of directors for the financial year ended Dec. 31, 2018.
The shareholders gave the approval at the bank’s 31st Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Lagos.
The dividend translated to 11k per ordinary share of 50k held by investors at the close of business on April 12, 2019.
Speaking at the meeting, Mr Patrick Ajudua, National Chairman, New Dimension Shareholders Association, commended the board and management for maintaining dividend policy.
Ajudua, however, expressed the need for payment of higher dividend by the bank in the years ahead.
He also urged the board to adopt strategies that would enable them to sustain growth and profitability in the industry.
Chief Timothy Adesiyan, President of the Nigerian Shareholders’ Solidarity Association, said that the bank had maintained steady growth in spite of challenging environment.
Adesiyan also commended the bank’s effort in ensuring aggressive loans recovery which impacted positively on its non-performing loan.
“We have a solid bank handled by professionals and our bank is in good hands,” he said.
Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo, the bank’s Chief Executive Officer, assured shareholders of consistent and enhanced dividend in future.
Okonkwo said that the bank had paid consistent dividend in the last 12 years, noting that the trend would be maintained.
He noted that investment was for future, stressing that, the current dividend policy was to prepare for rainy days.
“We want the bank to be here tomorrow as going concern and we need capital to continue to be strong,” Okonkwo said.
He stated that that bank would continue to invest heavily in technology in order to enhance activities through digital channels.
Okonkwo assured shareholders that the management would continue to review staff remunerations to be within industry level.
He added that the bank would continue to grow savings deposit noting that savings deposits doubled in the last five years.
Commenting on the bank’s performance, he said; “our 2018 audited financial statement shows a strong double-digit growth in earning assets, customer deposits and revenues.”
He expalined that the bank was able to sustain cost discipline with growth in total operating expenses remaining below average headline inflation in 2018.
He said gross earnings increased by 4.8 per cent to close at N188.9 billion primarily driven by 22.7 per cent growth in earning assets which led to 4.2 per cent increase in interest income to N153.7 billion and 9.2 per cent rise in net fee and commission income to N31.8 billion.
He said that digital banking gained attraction during the year with almost 40 per cent of customers now enrolled on mobile/ internet banking products and 81 per cent of total transactions now done on digital platform.
Also speaking, Mr Ernest Ebi, the bank’s Chairman, assured the shareholders that the board and management focus was to build a very strong bank that they would proud of.
Ebi said that the bank would remain committed to corporate governance, risk management and strong capital in line with its five year strategic plan aimed at delivering returns to all stakeholders.
On 11k dividend declared, he told the shareholders that the bank needed to provide buffers for economic headwinds to ensure sustainability.
The chairman said that the bank would some day start payment of interim dividend.