The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Kennedy Uzoka, on Thursday explained that the decision by the board to reduce its dividend payout at the end of the just-ended financial year was to further strengthen the business.
Uzoka, who was reacting to comments about the dividend cut by shareholders and the need to measure up to its peers at the annual general meeting, stressed the group’s desire to continue performing optimally, following which he said the board and management used most of the funds “to prepare for unforeseen challenges.
The shareholders approved a final dividend of N0.35 proposed by the directors, bringing the total dividend for the year to N0.52 kobo, up from 80 kobo in the preceding full year.
“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,” he stressed
“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,” he stressed.
While commending the board and management for keeping up with its activities despite the Covid-19 pandemic and its resultant effect on major businesses, including the 55% contribution of the African subsidiaries to the Group’s business, Sir Sunny Nwosu, a shareholder, urged the board to gear up efforts and increase dividends in the ongoing financial year.
Nonah Awoh, another shareholder, encouraged the management to boost other subsidiaries with the needed resources to perform even better in the current financial year.
The 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.
Speaking earlier, Tony O. Elumelu, chairman of the UBA Group, restated the board’s commitment to ensuring the viability of the business amid an ever-changing business environment and to continue to be a role model for African businesses by showcasing the best of Africa to the world.
He assured of juicier returns in the coming months, given its well established and diversified business model that ensures impressive performance even in periods of uncertainty, across its geographical network.
The diversification efforts and deeper play across Africa, he continued, has ensured that profit from various operations across the continent (ex-Nigeria) “have contributed approximately 55% of our profits for the year, illustrating that we are truly a pan-African bank.”
According to Elumelu, “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.
“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,” he noted.
At the end of the 2020 financial year, UBA’s profits rose by 27.7% to N113.8bn, from N89.1bn at the end of the 2019 financial year, whilst profit before tax was impressive at N131.9bn, compared to N111.3bn at the end of the 2019 financial year.
Gross earnings improved by 10.8% to N620.4bn, compared to N559.8bn recorded in the same period of 2019 whilst total assets also grew by 5.6% to N7.7tr for the year under review.