Shareholders of Sterling Bank Plc on Thursday lauded the bank’s performance for the financial year ended Dec. 31, 2018.
The shareholders unanimously gave the commendation at the bank’s 57th Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Lagos.
Speaking at the meeting, President of the Nigerian Shareholders’ Solidarity Association, Chief Timothy Adesiyan, lauded the bank for the growth posted in most of its performance indices.
Adesiyan said that massive improvements were recorded by the bank in gross earnings, net interest income, liquidity ratio and profit after tax.
He noted that even though the bank was not paying any dividend to shareholders for the year, “we are happy with the capital appreciation of the share price and the future bountiful dividends that await us.”
Adesiyan commended the board and executive management of the bank, especially the Chief Executive Officer, Mr Abubakar Suleiman, for the good results achieved during the period under review.
He appreciated the board and management for imbibing good corporate governance practice, which makes Sterling a dependable bank that is solid.
Also commenting, Mr Gbenga Idowu, National Coordinator, Shareholders United Front (SUF), said the results reflect a very good start by Suleiman as the bank’s CEO.
He said the results clearly show Suleiman’s ability to provide good leadership for the executive management of the bank since April 2018, when he took over from Mr Yemi Adeola.
In his address, Chairman of the board of directors of the bank, Mr Asue Ighodalo, said, “Our financial results in 2018 reflect an even stronger business performance, despite the impact of an ailing operating environment.”
According to him, the bank sustained earnings growth momentum in 2018, as gross earnings grew by 14 per cent to N152.2 billion, from N133.5 billion recorded in 2017.
He noted that although operating expenses increased by 26.4 per cent to N66.9 billion, due to investment in human capital and technology, the bank grew profit before tax by 17.1 per cent to N9.5 billion, and profit after tax by 14.9 per cent to N9.2 billion.
The chairman said the bank closed the year under review with an improved balance sheet position, as total assets grew steadily by about 2.9 per cent to N1.1 trillion, thereby maintaining the over one trillion naira mark achieved in 2017.
“We continued to sustain operational efficiencies and our focus in growing the bank’s retail franchise.
“This resulted in an improved deposit base and moderate growth in our loan book, specifically riding on the 108.3 per cent growth in retail and consumer loans, delivered mainly by SPECTA – Nigeria’s fastest digital lending platform,” Ighodalo said.
He noted that the bank was able to maintain the cost of funds at 7.4 per cent despite high-interest environment, which persisted for a significant part of the year.
On the future prospect of the bank, Ighodalo remarked that the Nigerian business environment for 2019 would remain a story of two halves.
He said that the bank expects the first half of the year to be dominated largely by election activities at the expense of economic growth, heightened by subdued foreign capital inflows, increased pressure on the naira, and accelerated foreign exchange intervention programme.
Ighodalo said that the second half would witness the likelihood of stronger consumer confidence.
Also speaking, Suleiman said, “We would maintain a more customer-centric approach to achieving growth and strive to scale our digital products.”
He noted that the bank would further diversify its loan book, by targeting 20 per cent share to Health, Education, Agriculture, Renewable Energy and Transportation.
The chief executive officer said that the bank would refocus its corporate and investment banking segment with emphasis on providing innovative solutions to key corporate, to enhance its banking value chain.