Despite the e-dividend registration campaign embarked on by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for nearly two years, the number of unclaimed dividends in the country has steadily been on the increase.

Data from the SEC’s statistical bulletin show that the number rose from N84.3 billion in December 2012 to N129 billion in December 2017. The free registration began in 2015 and was extended to April 2018.

Dividends are returns paid to shareholders of a company out of profits made by the company. They are paid periodically upon recommendation by the board of directors.

Unclaimed dividends are those that have not been claimed by investors after six months. Under current rules, all dividend payments are to be made through electronic means.

Breakdown of the components

Unclaimed dividends with companies amounted to N99.3 billion. The ones with registrars amounted to N15 billion, while those less than 15 months old amounted to N15.2 billion.

Companies are getting a bigger chunk

Though the unclaimed dividends increased as a whole, dividends less than 15 months old have steadily decreased. From a peak of N82 billion in December 2012, they have steadily declined to N15 billion as of December 2017.

However, the portion of dividends held by the companies has been on a steady increase. From N2.3 billion in September 2012, it hit an all-time high of N99.3 billion as of December 2017.  Investors that fail to claim their dividends after 12 years, forfeit them to the companies.

Reasons for the high volume

For retail investors, some of the dividends involved are so miniscule, compared to the effort required to register for the electronic dividends.

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Shareholders with signatures that don’t tally with records held by the registrars have to get bankers confirmation letters.

Many of the investors are also aged, and in some cases, deceased without wills.

Standard chartered

Last year, the SEC unveiled plans to establish an Unclaimed Dividends Trust Fund (UDTF). The fund will be managed by an asset manager, and have a board of trustees that will be overseen by the commission.

How to claim unclaimed dividends

Here is a step by step guide on how to claim your dividends. 

Onome Ohwovoriole has a degree in Economics and Statistics from the University of Benin and prior to joining Nairametrics in December 2016 as Lead Analyst had stints in Publishing, Automobile Services, Entertainment and Leadership Training. He covers companies in the Nigerian corporate space, especially those listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). He also has a keen interest in new frontiers like Cryptocurrencies and Fintech. In his spare time, he loves to read books on finance, fiction as well as keep up with happenings in the world of international diplomacy. You can contact him via onome.ohwovoriole@nairametrics.com

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