GTBank, Access Bank, Zenith Bank, FBN Holding, and 9 other banks listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) spent N271.64 billion on personnel expenses in the first half of 2020, compared to the N254.06 billion recorded in same period in 2019. Interestingly, this accrued increase occurred at a time several companies were cutting down on their costs.
According to checks by Nairametrics Research, the banks increased their expenses by over N17 billion during the period under review and this shows a 6.92% increase.
Backstory: Nairametrics had reported, in Q1 2020 alone, that 13 banks collectively spent more than N178 billion as personnel expenses during the first quarter of the year.
This showed a 9.5% increase when compared to N162.6 billion, which the thirteen banks recorded during the comparable period in Q1 2019.
It should be noted that personnel expenses encompass all of a company’s expenditures in relation to its staff’s remuneration and welfare, albeit within a specific financial reporting period. In other words, such expenses may include salaries/wages, other benefits including health insurance costs, pension, and training among others.
Comparing how much various banks paid their workers in H1 2020
From the available data, FBN Holdings recorded the biggest personnel expense in H1 2020. As much as N49.53 billion was spent on workers across the nation, compared to the N46.77 billion spent in H1 2019. FBN Holdings Plc is a holding company for First Bank of Nigeria Ltd and other subsidiaries such as FBNQuest, and FBN Merchant Bank.
What this means: The figure above represents personnel expenses for all the subsidiaries across the FBN Holdings group of companies. Further checks by Nairametrics Research revealed that FBN Holdings has a total of 9,016 employees as of December 2019.
UBA Plc followed closely with N44.56 billion for its staff’s remuneration during the first six months of the year, compared to the N37.17 billion in H1 2019. UBA had about 11,200 employees, according to information gleaned from its full-year 2019 financial statement.
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Zenith Bank came third with about N38.86 billion as personnel expenses. Interestingly, this is just 0.37% higher than its expenses in H1 2019. The bank has 6,521 employees.
Access Bank Plc witnessed a 16% increase in its personnel expenses from N31.24 billion in H1 2019 to N36.25 billion in H1 2020. This can be attributed to an increase in its staff strength from 4,273 in FY 2018 to 6,898 as of December 2019 but stands at 5,576 at the end of Q2 2020.
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Guaranty Trust Bank, Nigeria’s second most profitable bank, experienced a 1.1% rise in its expenses from N18.57 billion to N18.77 billion in the period under review. The tier-1 bank is known for its very minimal operating cost approach. This probably explains why its staff strength as of June 2020 stood at 3,482.
Surprisingly, Jaiz bank had the highest percentage increase in expenses among the 13 banks listed on the NSE. With a 71% increase, its expenses grew to N2.12 billion from N1.24 billion in the period under review.
It is obvious that the COVID-19 pandemic did not have any impact on how much the bank workers earned and there is a slim chance it would for the rest of the year, considering the relaxation of lockdown measures.
Recall that after the pandemic hit, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had warned all banks against laying off any staff, as Nairametrics earlier reported.
Jim Ovia is set to earn N9.58 billion in dividend for FY 2020
The highly revered banker is the single majority shareholder of Zenith Bank as he directly owns 3,546,199,395 units of the fast-rising bank stock.
The founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Jim Ovia is expected to earn a massive sum of N9.575 billion in dividend for the financial year ended December 2020
The highly revered banker is the single majority shareholder of Zenith Bank as he directly owns 3,546,199,395 units of the fast-rising bank stock out of the 31,396,493,787 ordinary shares available. This gives him an 11.29% direct interest in the Tier -1 bank.
It’s however important to note that such dividend is subject to a 10% withholding tax in Nigeria.
Recall that about a day ago, the Board of Directors of the bank in a statement released via the Nigerian Stock Exchange proposed a final dividend of N2.70, amounting to a total payout of N3.00 per share for the financial year 2020 (interim: N0.30).
This proposal reflects the past year’s robust performance and appears to signal that Zenith bank remains well-positioned to perform in the current financial year. However, there was a lower payout ratio at 40.9% compared to FY’19 (42.1%).
- Key earnings drivers to the financial year performance under review were a 90 basis points drop in the cost of funds to 2.1%, which propelled net interest income (+12.2% YoY) and a 3.8x jump in revaluation gains to N43.4 billion.
- These offset pressures from operating costs (the cost to income ratio rose 1.2ppts to 50.0%) and impairment charges (cost of risk rose 40basis points to 1.5%)
Described as the ‘Godfather of banking in Nigeria’ by Forbes Africa, Jim Ovia is quite popular for his business dexterity and leadership skills, especially in the banking sector.
His early interest in technology was the reason Zenith Bank became the first Nigerian company to have a functional website in 1995 and was able to smoothly migrate its operations from analog times to a digital era.
From a single branch in a residential building, Zenith Bank now has hundreds of branches all over Nigeria and several subsidiaries in other countries. The bank became a Public Limited Company in 2001 and was listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE), and later on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).
On the 27th of April 2007, Zenith Bank Plc became the first Nigerian bank in 25 years to be licensed by the UK Financial Services Authority (FSA), giving rise to Zenith Bank UK Limited.
Zenith Bank declares final dividend of N84.8 billion for shareholders
Zenith Bank declares final dividend of N84.8 billion for shareholders for 2020.
The Board of Directors of Zenith Bank Plc has announced the payment of a final dividend of N2.70 for every share of 50k held by shareholders, amounting to a total of N84.8 billion for the year ended 2020.
This is according to a disclosure signed by the company’s secretary, Michael Osilama Etu and sent to the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
According to the notification, the final dividend will be paid electronically to shareholders on the 16th of March, 2021, subject to appropriate withholding tax and approval from the Company’s Annual General Meeting. Other pre-requisite conditions for payment are;
- Only shareholders whose names appear in the registrar of members as at the close of business on 8th of March, 2021 will be considered.
- Shareholders must have completed the e-dividend registration and must have mandated the Registrar (Veritas Registrar Limited) to pay their dividends directly into their bank accounts.
- In lieu of this, it is pertinent to note that the register of shareholders will be closed on 9th of March, 2021.
Zenith Bank Plc had earlier paid an interim dividend of 30k to its qualified shareholders on 22nd of September, 2020, thereby raising the total dividend declared by the financial giant in 2020 to N3.00, indicating an increase of about 7.1% when compared to the total dividend of N2.80 declared in 2019.
What you should know
- Zenith Bank reported a profit before tax of N255.9 billion for FY 2020, indicating a growth of 5.2% YoY
- It also posted a Profit After Tax figures of N230.6 billion for the period under review, indicating a growth of 10.4% YoY.
- It has total shares outstanding of 31,396,493,787 and officially closed trading today with a share price of N26.
TLG Capital rebuffs Atlas Mara claims, insist it must be liquidated
TLG Capital does not believe Atlas Mara is telling the truth about its discussions with bondholders.
Private Equity firm TLG Capital has rebutted Atlas Mara’s recent press release accusing Atlas Mara of failing to “accurately to disclose – or has materially omitted – a number of relevant facts” regarding disclosures about its discussions with bondholders.
Atlas Mara had published a press release claiming that its discussions with its creditors regarding unpaid bonds that fell due in December 2020 were going well. However, in the press release, it claimed TLG Capital two other creditors “did not agree to enter into the Standstill or similar arrangement with the Company, notwithstanding the benefits of the Standstill to the Company’s creditors as a whole.”
Atlas Mara believes “TLG’s actions as both hostile and detrimental to the interests of the Company and its creditors, including TLG itself.”
However, according to TLG Capital, its $10.8 million loan due from TLG has been due since January 19 2021, and yet to be repaid. The private equity firm believes Atlas Mara’s inability pay its bondholders is because it is insolvent and thus should be liquidated.
” TLG welcomes the news that over 87.7 percent of bilateral creditors agreed to enter the Standstill or similar agreements, along with over 60 per cent of the principal holders of the group’s convertible bonds due 31 December 2020. If this is the case, and if the statements published by Atlas Mara in their press releases of 29 December 2020 and 8 October 2020 are true, then TLG fails to understand why Atlas Mara cannot pay “a small holdout creditor” the debt of USD 10.8 million that is due and payable. The reason of course, is that Atlas Mara is insolvent, which fact fully justifies TLG’s liquidation application.”
TLG Capital Rebuffs
TLG Capital also denied claims by Atlas Mara that it had engaged the former to join other creditors in the Standstill Agreement (a temporary arrangement with other creditors to avoid calling their bonds or liquidating the company).
“Atlas Mara has stated, “[Since executing the Standstill with a significant majority of its creditors, the Company has continued to engage with TLG in an effort to obtain its support and agreement to the terms of the Standstill or to find another consensual solution.” This is incorrect: Atlas Mara has generally refused to engage with TLG for months, failing to reply to no less than six separate legal notices. Along with a wholly-owned subsidiary, Atlas Mara has also failed to comply with its legal obligations under binding and enforceable agreements, despite being requested to do so on numerous occasions.” TLG Capital
Atlas Mara had reached an agreement with some of its bondholders to stay action on loans that had fallen due, however, according to it some “hold out creditors” like TLG did not accept the terms.
Conflict of interest with bondholders?
A spokesperson for TLG informed Nairametrics that Atlas Mara was not being sincere about their handling of the loans citing the relationship between Atlas Mara and Fairfax (who indirectly owns Atlas Mara) as a potential conflict of interest in whatever negotiations were being held with creditors.
“As a creditor of Atlas Mara, TLG finds it curious that in December 2020 Fairfax Financial purchased the entire 42% stake in Atlas Mara held by Helios Fairfax for USD 40m, when Atlas Mara was in the midst of negotiating a standstill arrangement with its creditors and acquiring new financing. Mr Wilkerson will of course have had full visibility of these facts as he hopped between his various fiduciary perches.”
Apparently Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, Helios Fairfax Partners Corporation and UBS O’Connor constitute a significant portion of Atlas Mara’s creditors.
According to TLG Capital “these creditor arrangements, and other interlocking relationships with the potential for conflicts of interest at the Atlas Mara board and shareholder level, are gravely concerning to TLG, and TLG likewise believes they should concern Atlas Mara’s other third party creditors and stakeholders.”
“For example, TLG notes that Mr Prem Watsa, the founder and Chairman of Fairfax Financial, is also the Chairman of Helios Fairfax. Moreover, TLG notes that Atlas Mara’s Executive Director and Chairman, Michael Wilkerson, is also the Executive Vice Chairman of Helios Fairfax. Thus the most senior leader of Atlas Mara is a senior executive of one of Atlas Mara’s largest creditors. TLG cannot understand how these arrangements benefit Atlas Mara’s third party creditors or other stakeholders, or how Mr Wilkerson can purport to discharge properly his fiduciary obligations to both Helios Fairfax and Atlas Mara.”
Why this matters
Atlas Mara holds significant stakes in several banking assets in Africa, including Nigeria’s Union Bank.
- Nairametrics understands it has been tryin to dispose of the Nigeria assets but yet to find any concrete bidder.
- It recently denied it was in talks with any bank to sell its stake in Union Bank.
- However, as it continues to find a way to repay its bondholder, Nairametrics strongly believes it will have to sell its stake in Union Bank to generate cashflow.
- Union Bank has a market capitalization of N152 billion ($370 million). Union Bank has Atlas Mara and Union Global Partners as two of its largest shareholders with 25.03% and 65.3% respectively (as of December 2019).
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