Fidelity Bank has reported N6.6bn Q1 profit, and has reassured its stakeholders that it will continue to take measures to ensure the safety of customers, staff, and others during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is just as The Economist has ranked Nigeria high on financial strength.
Speaking at the bank’s 32nd Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Lagos on Thursday, Chairman, Board of Directors of Fidelity Bank, Mr. Ernest Ebi, said the bank “remains committed to building a sustainable business, even in the midst of the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Ebi, who was a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), explained that the board, in line with its oversight responsibilities, had been meeting virtually, to strategise on new opportunity areas to cushion the impact of the pandemic and to sustain the growth trajectory of the bank.
These views were also affirmed by Fidelity Bank CEO, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, who said the bank’s greatest strength was its ability to adapt to change.
According to him, the bank will explore new prospects that are opening up in the retail market, continue to focus on customer-centricity, innovation and digitalisation while keeping its eye on governance, risk and liquidity.
“We place a high premium on risk management and will continue to review our risk acceptance criteria in reaction to new market realities,” he added.
The meeting, which was held by proxy, in compliance with the Corporate Affairs Commission’s (CAC) issued guidelines on AGMs within the period, had in attendance very few shareholders, on account of social distancing and restriction of movement in Lagos as a result of COVID-19 preventive and precautionary measures. Others joined remotely via live streaming.
The shareholders, who spoke on the occasion, gave kudos to the board and management for 2019 performance, which saw the bank delivering double-digit growth across key performance indices.
Gross earnings grew by 14 per cent to N215.5 billion, driven by a 15.8 per cent growth in interest and similar income. The bank’s profit before tax (PBT) rose by 21 per cent from N25.1 billion in 2018 to N30.4 billion in 2019.
The shareholders unanimously endorsed the payment of a cash dividend of 20 kobo per share, which translated to N5.793 billion for the year ended December 31, 2019.
The National Coordinator, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Mr. Boniface Okezie, applauded the dividend growth from 11 kobo paid in 2018 to 20 kobo in 2019.
“From all the indices, this is a superlative performance. The achievement of over N30 billion in profits is indeed worthy of commendation,” Okezie stated.
Also, the President of the Nigerian Shareholders’ Solidarity Association, Chief Timothy Adesiyan, commended the improvement particularly in interest income, non-performing loans (NPLs), liquidity ratio, and profit after tax and gross earnings. While lauding the bank for its digitalisation programme, he expressed optimism that the bank would be positioned to take advantage of new and emergent opportunities based on its comprehensive upgrade of its technology architecture.
Meanwhile, Fidelity Bank has begun the 2020 financial year on a positive note with the announcement of its unaudited results for the three months ended March 31, 2020.
Gross earnings for the first quarter of the year grew by 5.7 per cent to N51.2 billion from N48.4 billion in the previous year, while profit before tax (PBT) stood at N6.6 billion, representing a marginal drop from the N6.7 billion recorded in the first quarter of 2019.
Shareholders’ funds also grew by 3.6 per cent from N234 billion in 2019, to N242 billion in the first quarter of 2020.