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Zenith Bank Achieves Historic Milestones in 2023 With Stellar Triple-Digit Topline And Bottom-Line Growth

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Zenith Bank - Investors King

Zenith Bank Plc has announced its audited results for the year ended December 31, 2023, achieving a remarkable triple-digit growth of 125% in gross earnings from NGN945.6 billion reported in 2022 to NGN2.132 trillion in 2023.

According to the audited financial results for the 2023 financial year presented to the Nigerian Exchange (NGX), this impressive triple-digit growth in gross earnings resulted in a Year-on-Year (YoY) increase of 180% in Profit Before Tax (PBT) from NGN284.7 billion in 2022 to NGN796 billion in 2023.

Profit After Tax (PAT) also recorded triple-digit growth of 202% from NGN223.9 billion to NGN676.9 billion in the period ended December 31, 2023.

The increase in gross earnings is primarily due to growth in interest and non-interest income. Interest income increased by 112% from NGN540 billion in 2022 to NGN1.1 trillion in 2023. Non-interest income grew by 141% from NGN381 billion to NGN918.9 billion in the same period.

The increase in interest income is attributed to the growth in the size of risk assets and their effective repricing, alongside the rise in the yield of other interest-bearing instruments over the year. Growth in non-interest income was driven by significant trading gains and an increase in gains from the revaluation of foreign currencies.

The cost of funds grew from 1.9% in 2022 to 3.0% in 2023 due to the high interest rate environment while interest expense increased by 135% from NGN173.5 billion in 2022 to NGN408.5 billion in 2023. Notwithstanding the 32% growth in operating expenses in 2023, the Group’s cost-to-income ratio improved significantly from 54.4% in 2022 to 36.1% in 2023 due to improved top-line performance.

Return on Average Equity (ROAE) increased by 118% from 16.8% in 2022 to 36.6% in 2023, underpinned by improved gross earnings, as the Group sought to deliver better shareholder returns. Return on Average Assets (ROAA) also grew by 95% from 2.1% to 4.1% in the same period.

The Group has continued to deepen its market leadership in key corporate and retail deposit segments as customer deposits increased by 69% from NGN9.0 trillion to NGN15.2 trillion in 2023.

Its retail drive continues to yield dividends as retail deposits now constitute 46% of total deposits (compared to 44% in 2022) and grew by 77% from NGN3.97 trillion in 2022 to NGN7.04 trillion in 2023, also reinforcing increased customer confidence in the Zenith brand.

Total assets increased by 66% from NGN12.3 trillion in 2022 to NGN20.4 trillion in 2023, largely due to growth in total deposits and the revaluation of foreign currency deposits.

Gross loans grew by 71% from NGN4.1 trillion in 2022 to NGN7.1 trillion in 2023 due to the revaluation of foreign currency loans and the growth in local currency risk assets.

As a result of the disciplined and diligent approach to risk assets creation and management, the loan growth did not significantly impact the Non-Performing Loans (NPL) ratio, which increased marginally from 4.3% to 4.4% despite the heightened risk environment and challenging operating environment, an attestation to the Group’s resilience despite headwinds and a challenging macroeconomic environment.

Also, the prudential ratios remain within regulatory thresholds, with the Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) and liquidity ratio at 21.7% and 71.0%, respectively, at the close of 2023.

As a demonstration of its commitment to shareholders, the bank has announced a proposed final dividend payout of NGN3.50 per share, bringing the total dividend to NGN4.00 per share.

In 2024, the Group will complete the transition to a holding company structure, which is anticipated to position it advantageously for exploring emerging opportunities in the Fintech space while bolstering its digital and retail banking initiatives.

Furthermore, the Group is undertaking urgent necessary actions to meet the new minimum NGN500 billion equity capital requirement to maintain its international authorisation within the timeframe stipulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

This will strengthen its presence in key markets to continue positioning for sustainable growth and value addition for stakeholders.

Zenith Bank’s track record of excellent performance has continued to earn the brand numerous awards, including being recognised as Best Bank in Nigeria, for the fourth time in five years, from 2020 to 2022 and in 2024, in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards; the Best Bank for Digital Solutions in Nigeria in the Euromoney Awards 2023, being listed in the World Finance Top 100 Global Companies in 2023; being recognised as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital, for the 14th consecutive year, in the 2023 Top 1000 World Banks Ranking published by The Banker Magazine; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria, for three consecutive years from 2021 to 2023, in the World Finance Banking Awards; Best Corporate Governance Bank, Nigeria in the World Finance Corporate Governance Awards 2022 and 2023; Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards 2020 and 2022; Best in Corporate Governance’ Financial Services’ Africa, for four successive years from 2020 to 2023, by the Ethical Boardroom; Most Sustainable Bank, Nigeria in the International Banker 2023 Banking Awards; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria and Best Innovation in Retail Banking, Nigeria in the International Banker 2022 Banking Awards.

Also, the bank emerged as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands 2020 and 2021; Bank of the Year 2023 and Retail Bank of the Year for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, at the BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards. Similarly, Zenith Bank was named Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the ThisDay Awards 2020, Bank of the Year 2021 by Champion Newspaper, Bank of the Year 2022 by New Telegraph Newspaper, and Most Responsible Organisation in Africa 2021 by SERAS Awards.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Banking Sector

CBN Reports 136% Increase in Q1 Forex Inflows Over 2023 Total

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Dr. Olayemi Michael Cardoso

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. Olayemi Cardoso, announced that foreign exchange (forex) inflows in the first quarter of 2024 were 136% higher than the total inflows recorded in 2023.

This remarkable increase is attributed to recent economic reforms and market liberalization efforts.

Dr. Cardoso made this announcement at the Vanguard Economic Discourse in Lagos on Thursday, an event themed “Reforms in The Era of Global Economic Uncertainties: Whither Nigeria.”

Represented by Blaise Ijebor, Director of Risk at CBN, Cardoso highlighted the bank’s commitment to utilizing all orthodox monetary policy tools to address inflation and enhance market transparency.

“We remain committed to using all the orthodox monetary policy tools available to us to address inflation,” Cardoso stated.

“We have also embarked on major reforms to liberalize the foreign exchange market, which has enhanced transparency, reduced arbitrage opportunities, promoted stability, and improved liquidity.”

One of the pivotal reforms included the settlement of all valid FX forwards, which Cardoso identified as a crucial factor in boosting stakeholder confidence.

This settlement has been instrumental in increasing forex flows into the country. The governor emphasized that the substantial growth in Q1 2024 forex inflows is a direct result of these reforms.

The CBN has taken proactive steps to sanitize and stabilize the forex market. This includes issuing multiple circulars to streamline operations and recently licensing 14 new International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) to bolster remittance inflows.

These measures aim to double remittance flows within the year, a target set by the CBN Governor.

“Our target, of course, is to double remittance flows within the year,” Cardoso remarked. “We have started that process to ensure that it happens.”

Cardoso also addressed the broader economic challenges posed by global uncertainties. He noted that global financial tightening has led to increased risk aversion, impacting investment flows into developing economies like Nigeria.

These challenges, coupled with domestic issues such as food inflation driven by rising transport costs, infrastructure constraints, and security concerns, have compounded economic pressures.

“The financial tightening that we have seen globally has been a result of monetary authorities taking steps to rein in inflation,” Cardoso explained. “This has had an impact on developing economies as investments shift to safer markets amidst uncertainties.”

The CBN Governor reaffirmed his commitment to repositioning the bank to deliver sustainable, data-driven solutions aimed at stabilizing the Nigerian economy. He emphasized the importance of collaboration between monetary and fiscal authorities to address the nation’s economic challenges.

“We have embarked on tightening the bank’s monetary policy to address inflationary pressure on the economy,” Cardoso noted. “I believe that the results will become evident in the near term, as we are already seeing a deceleration in inflation.”

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Banking Sector

Fidelity Bank Sets N60m Compensation for Chairman, N40m for Non-Executive Directors

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fidelity bank - Investors King

Fidelity Bank’s shareholders have approved a substantial compensation package for its chairman and non-executive directors.

The decision, disclosed in a document filed with the Nigeria Exchange Group titled ‘Resolutions from the 36th annual general meeting on Monday,’ outlines the bank’s plans for remuneration for the fiscal year 2024.

According to the resolution, Fidelity Bank’s chairman is set to receive a compensation package of N60 million annually.

Also, each non-executive director is slated to earn N40 million per annum.

The resolution further stipulates that these compensation figures will remain in effect for succeeding years until reviewed by the company during its annual general meeting.

This provision underscores the bank’s commitment to regular evaluation and adjustment of its compensation policies to align with evolving market dynamics and shareholder expectations.

The decision comes amidst Fidelity Bank’s proposal for a final dividend payout of 60 kobo per share to shareholders for the 2023 financial year.

This announcement reflects the bank’s robust financial performance and its commitment to delivering value to shareholders.

Fidelity Bank’s financial report for the year 2023 reveals impressive growth, with profit before income tax soaring by 131.49% to N124.26 billion from N53.68 billion in 2022.

This remarkable performance underscores the bank’s resilience and agility in navigating challenging economic conditions while capitalizing on emerging opportunities in the financial sector.

While the decision to allocate such substantial compensation packages to its leadership team may raise eyebrows among some stakeholders, proponents argue that it is essential to attract and retain top talent in a competitive industry landscape.

They contend that adequately remunerating key personnel is crucial for driving sustainable growth, fostering innovation, and maintaining stakeholder confidence.

However, critics may question the optics of such generous compensation packages, particularly in light of the broader socioeconomic challenges facing the country. With concerns over income inequality and calls for greater corporate accountability, Fidelity Bank may face scrutiny over its executive compensation practices and their alignment with broader societal interests.

As Fidelity Bank forges ahead with its ambitious growth agenda, navigating the delicate balance between rewarding leadership and addressing stakeholder concerns will remain a key priority for the institution.

As the banking industry continues to evolve, ensuring transparency, accountability, and fairness in compensation practices will be essential for maintaining trust and credibility in the eyes of shareholders and the public alike.

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Banking Sector

Financial Institutions Racked Up N678m in Fines Last Year

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Retail banking

Financial institutions in Nigeria paid a total of N678 million in fines in the 2023 financial year, according to analysis of their various financial statements.

The analysis examined the annual reports of nine prominent financial groups, including FBN Holdings, Access Holdings, Guaranty Trust Holding Company, Zenith Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc, Fidelity Bank, Wema Bank, Stanbic IBTC Holdings, and FCMB Group.

These reports provided insights into the fines imposed by various regulatory authorities, including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the National Insurance Commission, and others.

Compared to the previous year, the total amount of fines paid by these institutions decreased significantly by 89.25% from N6.31 billion in 2022 to N678 million in 2023.

This decline reflects improved regulatory compliance among financial institutions and signals a positive trend toward greater adherence to established guidelines and standards.

Among the financial groups analyzed, Zenith Bank stood out for its increase in penalties compared to the previous year. While the bank had incurred no fines in 2022, it paid N21 million in penalties in 2023.

The penalties levied against Zenith Bank included fines for late rendition of CBN returns, unauthorized employment practices, outstanding auditor recommendations, and compliance checks on politically exposed persons.

Similarly, FBN Holdings reported a decrease in fines paid during the period, totaling N17.26 million compared to N26 million in the previous year.

The fines imposed on FBN Holdings were related to late submission of audited financial statements and non-compliance with regulatory reporting requirements.

Access Holdings also experienced a significant reduction in penalties, with fines decreasing from approximately N604 million in 2022 to N81.60 million in 2023.

Despite the decrease, Access Holdings incurred fines from various regulatory bodies, including the CBN, PenCom, and NGX RegCo, for infractions such as unauthorized advertising, data recapture sanctions, and late filing of financial statements.

Other financial institutions, such as GTCO, UBA Group, Fidelity Bank, Wema Bank, Stanbic IBTC Holdings, and FCMB Group, also reported fines for various regulatory violations, including breaches of transaction rules, late submission of reports, and non-compliance with industry regulations.

The significant decrease in fines paid by financial institutions in 2023 reflects the industry’s commitment to improving regulatory compliance and upholding best practices.

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