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COMFORT EKELEME, Business Editor
Shareholders of Zenith Bank Plc have expressed satisfaction over the audited results for the half-year ended 30 June 2021.
Despite a challenging macroeconomic environment worsened by the COVID 19 pandemic, Zenith Bank last week released its 2021 half-year results, recording positive growth across key financial metrics.
These industry watchers said affirms the bank’s number one position in the Africa Continent today.
Zenith Bank has in the last 30 years, grown enormously to become Nigeria’s largest and one of Africa’s largest financial institutions by tier-1 capital, with shareholders’ funds of N1.1 trillion ($2.64 billion) as of 31st December 2020.
A Shareholder Activist & co-founder of Noble Shareholders Solidarity Association (NSSA), Alhaji Gbadebo Olatokunbo, while speaking with Daily Champion said Zenith has been a bank with many advantages on policies, products aimed at making banking seamless.
He said, the bank’s results were impressive, but not a surprise to keen observers of the economy.
According to him, most of the proactive companies were able to scale the hurdles despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and the banking industry was not left out.
“One secret and advantage in COVID-19 was the extreme cut in cost/wastages in almost all the business; while that of the banking industry was more in favour of the advantages due to the compulsory usage of banking products by almost all businesses during the period. Therefore the impressive results from the banking industry weren’t unexpected.
“Zenith bank has been a bank with many advantages on policies/products that were there to make things easy for impressive advantages on the new ways of doing businesses; therefore we couldn’t expect less from the bank,” he said.
Speaking further, Olatokunbo maintained that Zenith Bank continues to distinguish itself in the Nigerian financial services industry through superior service offerings, unique customer experience, and sound financial indices.
He further noted that Zenith Bank is the clear leader in the digital space with several firsts in the deployment of innovative products, solutions, and an assortment of alternative channels that ensure convenience, speed, and safety of transactions.
Also speaking, National Co-ordinator, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria (PSAN), Boniface Okezie was of the view that the result posted by Zenith Bank Plc clearly shows that the bank remains the number one in Africa Continent today, adding that no other banks in Africa can boast of such amazing results so far except the banks in America.
“I said it early that Ebenezer Onyeagwu and his teams of managers are doing a great job in the bank. Notwithstanding the challenging economy and the COVID-19 Pandemic, you will see the wonderful performance in earning and overall profits in leap bounds. We are really impressed by the result so far under the leadership of the current Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer Ebenezer Onyeagwu is doing very great work in the bank, on the performance of the top line, I told you, market watchers, that we can only hope for a bigger dividend ahead that is what is playing out now it is not overrating but the reality on ground more dividends to come our way by the grace of God.
“The result is the handiwork of being diligent in all they do because if you do that thing without falling into the hands of overzealous regulators you must make it. The regulators are the ones making the company lag behind most of the time especially in this climate,” he said.
According to the bank’s audited half-year financial results released on the floor of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX), the Group recorded a growth in profit before tax of 3pe cent from N114 billion reported in H1 2020 to N117 billion in H1 2021.
The Group also recorded a 9per cent growth in non-interest income from N116 billion in June 2020 to N127 billion in June 2021.
Overall, the significant reduction in interest expense by 26per cent and growth in non-interest income by 9per cent culminated in improved profitability.
The Group’s retail journey continues to deliver positive results as retail deposits grew by N38.2 billion from N1.72 trillion to N1.76 trillion Year-To-Dates (YTD). Savings balances grew marginally by 2per cent YTD to close at N1.18 trillion from N1.16 trillion as of December 2020.
According to the Bank, the drive for increased retail deposits and a low-interest yield in the environment helped reduce the cost of funding from 2.2per cent to 1.3per cent in the current period.
Operating expenses grew by 10per cent YoY, but growth remains below the inflation rate, while the Group improved its Earnings per Share (EPS) which grew 2per cent from N3.30 to N3.38 for the half-year ended June 2021.
The Group also increased total customer deposits by 8per cent to close the period at N5.77 trillion, demonstrating growth in the market share.
Total assets grew marginally to N8.52 trillion as of 30 June 2021 from N8.48 trillion recorded as of 31 December 2020.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic-induced challenges and the challenging operating environment, the Group grew its risk assets as gross loans were up by 3per cent YTD, from N2.92 trillion to N2.99 trillion.
This was conservatively achieved at a low Non-Performance Loans (NPL) ratio of 4.51per cent (FYE 2020: 4.29per cent) and a reduced cost of risk of 1.3per cent (June 2020: 1.8per cent). Prudential ratios such as liquidity and capital adequacy also remained above regulatory thresholds at 69.9per cent and 22.0per cent, respectively.
Despite the continued prevalence of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is cautious optimism that the global economy will continue to recover as vaccination programmes are intensified.
On the domestic economy, Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 5.01per cent in the second quarter of 2021, and the inflation rate, which peaked in March 2021 at 18.17per cent, is gradually trending down (currently at 17.38per cent as of July 2021).
The Group is well-positioned to maximize the opportunities that these recovering fundamentals present while leveraging technology to expand its retail footprints to deliver improved returns to all its stakeholders.
In recognition of its track record of excellent performance, Zenith Bank was voted as Best Commercial Bank in Nigeria in the World Finance Banking Awards 2021, Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards 2020, Best Bank in Nigeria in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks
Awards 2020 and 2021, and Best in Corporate Governance ‘Financial Services’ Africa 2020 and 2021 by the Ethical Boardroom.
Also, the bank emerged as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands 2020 and 2021, and Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital in the “2021 Top 1000 World Banks” Ranking by The Banker Magazine.
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