Shareholders of FBN Holdings Plc, at the weekend, endorsed the bank’s N7.18 billion total dividend, translating to 20 kobo per for the 2016 financial year.
The 20 kobo dividend per share was against N5.38 billion or 15 kobo per share declared in the comparative period of 2015.
Speaking at the 5th yearly general meeting of the bank in Lagos, the shareholders also stressed the need for the bank to adopt a strategy that would help it recover its impairment and enhance profitability.
For instance, the National Coordinator Emeritus, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Sunny Nwosu, commended the company for declaring dividend in spite of the harsh operating environment.
Nwosu said the shareholders appreciated the dividend considering the unfriendly operating environment and impairment charge for credit losses.
He urged the company’s board and management to map out strategies aimed at fighting the impairment to improve operating profit, and to aggressively recover outstanding loans for better dividends payment in the current financial year.
An independent shareholder, Nona Awo, expressed concern on the company’s huge unclaimed dividend, and stressed the need for collaboration between the registrars and investor relations officer to drive down the figure.
He added that the company needed to increase its customer deposit base and reduce non-performing loans. The immediate past Secretary of ISAN, Adebayo Adeleke, said the bank has shown high level of resilience, noting that the new leadership of the company has been able to turn around the bank.
He also urged the bank to support the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), the nation’s engine of development through lending.
The Managing Director, First Bank of Nigeria, Adesola Adeduntan, assured the shareholders of the bank’s sustainability, noting that the bank, as a key component of the holding company, had taken cognizance of past events and the need to do things differently.
He disclosed that digital banking is one of its key strategies for growth going forward, adding that the management is transforming the depository from credit lending to transaction lending institution.
He said the bank is working hard to ensure the reduction in impairment as witnessed in 2016, saying: “Impairment going forward will remain relatively high but not in the magnitude of 2016.”
He noted that the board and management had strengthened various risk controls in the bank aimed at lowering risks, adding that the bank’s single limit obiligor had been reduced from N90 million to N30 million to minimise risks.