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Investors commend Access Bank for reducing NPL portfolio

By The Citizen
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Shareholders of Access Bank Plc on Thursday commended the management of the bank for reducing its non-performing loans to 2.2 per cent in the 2014 financial year under review from 2.7 per cent recorded in 2013.

The shareholders also approved the final dividend of 35 kobo per share of 50 kobo each. This is in addition to the interim dividend earlier paid to them, bringing the total dividend paid for the 2014 financial year to 60 kobo per share or N13.73bn.

Shareholders, who spoke at the bank's 26th Annual General Meeting in Lagos, said the bank must be commended for keeping its NPL at a lower digit, a development which, according to them, is a proof that the bank is sound and healthy.

One of the shareholders, Dr. Farouk Umar, said the bank performed well despite the pressure from regulatory authorities. He called on the Central Bank of Nigeria to reduce the cash reserve ratio that was put in place to check banks from lending to politicians, since the elections were over.

Another shareholder, Mr. Boniface Okezie, also commended the bank for paying 60 kobo dividend despite having to raise funds through a rights issue, a decision that could make other banks not to pay dividend at all.

The Chairman, Access Bank, Mr. Gbenga Oyebode, said the bank's ability to generate strong financial performance despite adverse market condition was a testament to the efforts of the management team.

He said in the year under review, the bank improved its revenue generation capacity as gross earnings rose to N245bn, while profit before tax rose by 20 per cent to N52bn.

'As we pursue our mission and vision, we are confident that the strategic direction we have chosen is sound. We will maintain our strong capital and liquidity, managing risk effectively and operating efficiently to reduce costs,' Oyebode said.

The Managing Director, Access Bank, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, in his response to questions at the meeting, said considering steps being currently taken by the bank and the success recorded in the rights issue, the bank would pay better dividend at the end of the current financial year.

'All we are doing now is to secure the future of the bank and we are on the right course. You should expect better dividend next year. When some of the seeds we are planting now begin to bring fruits, it will be to the admiration and satisfaction of our shareholders.'