Shareholders of Fidelity Bank Plc, on Friday, unanimously endorsed the board’s offer to pay a cash dividend of 22 kobo per share to those whose names appear in the register of members as of April 16, 2021, translating to a dividend yield of 9.2% making it the fourth most investor friendly bank on the Nigerian Capital Market.
Speaking at the 33rd Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Lagos, for example, Dr Farouk Umar, President, Association for the Advancement of the Rights of Nigeria Shareholders, commended the bank for the encouraging performance in 2020, despite the challenges posed by outbreak of the novel Coronavirus pandemic.
Umar appreciated the board for paying the dividend on the same day as the AGM, unlike its peers in the industry that pay a day after.
Also speaking, Mrs Bisi Bakare, National Coordinator, Pragmatic Shareholders Association of Nigeria, also commended the bank for the dividend in spite of the unfriendly environment and COVID-19.
Bakare, while welcoming Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe and Mustapha Chike-Obi, chief executive and board chairman respectively to the bank’s driving seats, urged them to sustain the growth and ensure juicier dividends in the years ahead.
Other shareholders also praised the board and management for the 38.7% growth in total customer deposits, from N1.225tr in the 2019 financial year, to N1.699tr, driven by strong double-digit growth in both local and foreign currency deposits.
Addressing the meeting, Chike-Obi, reassured the shareholders that the board and management would maintain the high corporate governance standards synonymous with Fidelity Bank and also ensure it continues on its growth trajectory in the years ahead.
According to him, “we will continue to strengthen our enterprise risk management capabilities to ensure the sustainability of our business, while modeling our governance practices to align with international best practice.”
For Mrs. Onyeali-Ikpe, the bank showed “strong resilience to the adversities the global economy witnessed in 2020,” stressing that the year’s performance reflected the resilience of its business model in a challenging operating environment.
Local currency deposits, she noted, grew by 49.6% to N1.4tr, constituting 82.5% of total customer deposits, while foreign currency deposits rose by 3.3% to N298.2bn, and accounting for 17.5% of total deposits.
She added that the bank’s retail banking push continues to deliver impressive results, with total savings deposits increasing by 54.2% to N424.4bn, making it the 8th consecutive year of double-digit growth. Savings deposits, she stressed, now accounts for about 25% of total deposits, attesting to the bank’s increasing market share in the retail market segment.
On the strategy for the current financial year, Mrs. Onyeali-Ikpe said Fidelity Bank “will continue to focus on redesigning our systems and processes to enhance service delivery, deepen our cost optimization initiatives to reduce operating expenses, and enhance our overall risk monitoring capabilities to ensure both internal and external risks are identified and mitigated. Our growth aspirations will be sustained while we continue to identify new opportunities in the new normal.
“On the back of the evolving dynamics in the economy, we will continue to increase the adoption and migration of customers to our digital platforms and increase our retail banking market share through innovative products and services”, she concluded.
The MD/CEO appreciated the shareholders and board for their continued confidence in the management team, just as she specially appreciated the customers for their patronage and loyalty.
Meanwhile, the management assured that the bank is poised to do even better in the current year as can be seen from its unaudited scorecard for the 2021 first quarter ended March 31, net revenue in the period increased by 13.4% from N30.3bn to N34.4bn. Profit before tax however leaped by 53.9% from N6.6bn in 2020 to N10.1bn.