BY EMEKA EJERE
Shareholders of Union Bank Plc on Tuesday approved the Group’s 2020 annual accounts presented by the chairman of the Board, Mrs. Beatrice Hamza Bassey, commending sustained profitability of the Bank despite the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
At the Bank’s 52nd Annual General Meeting (AGM), held May 4, the shareholders who applauded the Bank’s resilience and focus on sustaining shareholder value, approved the recommended dividend of 25 Kobo per 50 Kobo ordinary share.
A statement by the Corporate Affairs Unit of the lender indicates that “the shareholders’ attendance at the AGM was by proxy, owing to public health safety directives on public and mass gatherings due to the sustained COVID-19 threat. The meeting proceedings were however streamed live online for the benefit of all the Bank’s shareholders.”
In her remarks, Mrs. Hamza Bassey highlighted key achievements of the Bank in 2020, including the continued focus on digital innovation for high-quality service delivery across touch points; the Bank’s multipronged approach to supporting the fight against COVID-19, and the prompt pivot to remote work for over 70% of employees at the height of the pandemic, owing to strategic investments in digital technologies prior to the pandemic.
She said: -“Our commitment to delivering high quality earnings remains unwavering. I am pleased to announce that the Bank delivered a resilient set of results in 2020 notwithstanding the challenging macroeconomic operating environment.
“Our overall performance demonstrates our resilience and ability to adapt to the constantly changing business environment to maximise shareholder returns. We remain committed to delivering value to our shareholders as we continue to drive growth and proﬁtability of our business.”
Commenting on the Bank’s performance for 2020 and plans for 2021, the Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Emeka Okonkwo said:
“In 2020, despite the headwinds caused by the pandemic, Union Bank continued to deliver a strong performance that has enabled the Board of Directors propose a dividend payment for the second consecutive year. This indicates resilience and affirms the strong foundation that was rebuilt over the past eight years.
“As we begin a new chapter, we will continue the journey to becoming a leading financial institution in Nigeria. Sustaining value to our shareholders remains at the core of our continuous drive and we remain committed to delivering improved profitability and higher returns in 2021 and beyond.”
Major highlights of the Bank’s financial performance in 2020 show that profit before tax grew by 2.8% to ₦25.4 billion, from ₦24.7 billion in 2019. Customer deposits also increased by 27.6% to ₦1,131.1 billion compared to ₦886.3 billion in 2019, reflecting the Bank’s agility in delivering a compelling range of products to its customers during the pandemic, and increased adoption of digital channels.
In addition, Non-performing loans ratio reduced to 4% from 5.8% in 2019, driven by a disciplined recoveries strategy, a more robust loan book and key restructurings to support customers during the pandemic.