Shareholders of Zenith Bank Plc at the 29th Annual General Meeting of the bank held in Abuja, yesterday, unanimously approved the proposed final dividend of N2.50 per share, bringing the total dividend payment for the 2019 financial year to N2.80 per share, with a total value of N87.9 billion.
This followed the recent release of the bank's audited financial results for 2019 financial year.
According to the audited financial results for the 2019 financial year, Zenith Bank recorded a profit after tax (PAT) of N208.8 billion, an increase of eight per cent from the N193 billion recorded in the previous year, thus achieving the feat as the first Nigerian Bank to cross the N200 billion mark.
The group also recorded a growth in gross earnings of five per cent, rising to N662.3 billion from N630.3 billion reported in the previous year. This growth was driven by the 29 per cent increase in non-interest income from N179.9 billion in 2018 to N231.1 billion in 2019.
According to the results, fees on electronic products continued to grow significantly with a 108 per cent year-on-year (Y-o-Y) growth from N20.4 billion in 2018, to N42.5 billion in the current year.
This was a validation of the bank's retail transformation strategy, which continues to deliver impressive results.
The bank's profit before tax also increased by five per cent, growing from N232 billion to N243 billion in the current year, arising from top-line growth and continued focus on cost optimisation strategies. Cost-to-income ratio moderated from 49.3 per cent to 48.8 per cent.
The drive for cheaper retail deposits coupled with the low-interest yield environment helped reduce the cost of funding from 3.1 per cent to three per cent.
However, this also affected net interest margin, which reduced from 8.9 per cent to 8.2 per cent in the current year, due to the re-pricing of interest-bearing assets. Although returns on equity and assets held steady YoY at 23.8 per cent and 3.4 per cent respectively, the group still delivered improved earnings per share (EPS), which grew by eight per cent, from N6.15 to N6.65 in the current year.
The group increased its share of the market as it secured increased customer deposits across the corporate and retail space as deposits grew by 15 per to close at N4.26 trillion. Total assets also increased by seven per cent, from N5.96 trillion to N6.35 trillion. The group created new viable risk assets as gross loans grew by 22 per cent, from N2.016 trillion to N2.462 trillion.
This was executed prudently at a low cost of risk of 1.1 per cent and a significant reduction in the non-performing loan ratio from 4.98 per cent, to 4.30 per cent, according to its 2019 financial results.
Prudential ratios such as liquidity and capital adequacy ratios also remained above regulatory thresholds at 57.3 per cent and 22 per cent respectively.
In recognition of its track record of excellent performance, Zenith Bank was voted as the Best Commercial Bank in Nigeria 2019 by the World Finance, and the Best Digital Bank in Nigeria 2019 by Agusto & Co. The bank was also recognised as Bank of the Year and Best Bank in Retail Banking at the 2019 BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BOFI) awards. Most recently, the bank emerged as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria, for the third consecutive year, in the recently released Banker Magazine: "Top 500 Banking Brands 2020;" the Best Bank in Nigeria 2020 in the Global Finance World's Best Banks Awards 2020; and the Bank of the Decade (People's Choice) at the THISDAY Awards 2020.
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