SHAREHOLDERS of Sterling Bank Plc, Nigeria’s leading commercial bank, have commended the bank’s performance in the financial year ended December 2018.
The shareholders gave the commendation at the 57th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the bank in Lagos on Thursday.
Commenting on the financial performance at the AGM, former president of the Nigerian Shareholders’ Solidarity Association, Chief Timothy Adesiyan said the performance of the bank was highly commendable in view of the massive improvement in most of the indices, especially in gross earnings, net interest income, liquidity ratio and profit after tax.
He noted that even though the bank was not paying a dividend to shareholders for the year, “we are happy with the capital appreciation of the share price and the future bountiful dividends that await us.”
Chief Adesiyan also commended the board and executive management of the bank, especially the Chief Executive Officer, Mr Abubakar Suleiman, for the good results and for imbibing good corporate governance practice which makes Sterling a dependable bank that is solid.
Also commenting, Mr Gbenga Idowu, National Coordinator Shareholders United Front (SUF) said the results reflect a very good start by Mr Abubakar Suleiman as CEO of the bank.
He said the results clearly show Suleiman’s ability to provide good leadership for the executive management of the bank since April 2018 when he took over from Mr Yemi Adeola.
In his address, Chairman of the board of directors of the bank, Mr Asue Ighodalo said, “Our financial results in 2018 reflect an even stronger business performance despite the impact of an ailing operating environment.”
According to him, the bank sustained earnings growth momentum in 2018 as gross earnings grew by 14 per cent to N152.2 billion from N133.5 billion recorded in 2017. He added that although operating expenses increased by 26.4 to N66.9 billion due to investment in human capital and technology, the bank grew profit before tax by 17.1 per cent to N9.5 billion and profit after tax by 14.9 per cent to N9.2 billion.
The chairman said the bank closed the year under review with an improved balance sheet position as total assets grew steadily by about 2.9 per cent to N1.1 trillion, thereby maintaining the over one trillion Naira mark achieved in the previous year.
“We continued to sustain operational efficiencies and our focus in growing the bank’s retail franchise. This resulted in an improved deposit base and moderate growth in our loan book, specifically riding on the 108.3 per cent growth in retail and consumer loans delivered mainly by SPECTA – Nigeria’s fastest digital lending platform,” Ighodalo said.
He added that the bank was able to maintain the cost of funds at 7.4 per cent despite a high-interest environment which persisted for a significant part of the year.
On the future prospect of the bank, Ighodalo remarked that the Nigerian business environment for 2019 would remain a story of two halves.
He noted that the bank expects the first half of the year to be dominated largely by election activities at the expense of economic growth, heightened by subdued foreign capital inflows, increased pressure on the Naira and accelerated foreign exchange intervention programme while the second half would witness the likelihood of stronger consumer confidence.