By NBF News

Shareholders of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, the parent company of the Ecobank Group will receive a 33 per cent increase in dividend payments this year following a resolution approved the group's Annual General Meeting (AGM) held at new Group head offices in Lomé, Togo last week.

Addressing shareholders at the AGM, the Group Chairman, Mr. Kolapo Lawson said: 'Having established a strong geographical platform for growth, we are now focused on the integration and optimization of business to maximize shareholder value.

We will continue our strategy of increasing market share and revenues whilst plugging any gaps in our pan-African footprint.' Reviewing Ecobank's 2010 financial results, Group Chief Executive, Arnold Ekpe, said: 'Overall, we believe that our strategy of diversification across geographies, customers and businesses has been a major factor in the improved performance of the Group.'

Mr. Ekpe also said that there was a marked improvement in the underlying performance of Nigeria, Ecobank's main subsidiary, whilst a number of the Group's start-up operations either significantly reduced their losses or became profitable.

In 2010, Ecobank generated revenues of US$900 million and profit after tax doubled to US$132 million. The Group's total assets surpassed the US$10 billion mark for the first time, driven largely by a 22% growth in deposits. Ecobank now operates in 35 countries and has 755 branches and offices.

The Chairman on behalf of the Board stated that the best years for Ecobank lie ahead as the benefits of expansion, growth and its unique operating model are fully realized.