Shareholders of Sterling Bank Plc, on Thursday, April 25, rained applauses on the bank’s performance for the financial year ended December 2018 at the 57th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the bank in Lagos.
Commending the financial performance at the AGM, President of the Nigerian Shareholders’ Solidarity Association, Chief Timothy Adesiyan, said the performance of the bank is highly commendable in view of the massive improvement in most of the indices, especially in gross earnings, net interest income, liquidity ratio and profit after tax.
He noted that although the bank is not paying any dividend to shareholders for the year, “we are happy with the capital appreciation of the share price and the future bountiful dividends that await us.”
Chief Adesiyan also commended the board and executive management of the bank, especially the Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Abubakar Suleiman, for the good results, and for imbibing good corporate governance practice which makes Sterling a dependable and solid bank.
Also commenting, Mr. Gbenga Idowu, National Coordinator Shareholders United Front (SUF), said the results reflect a very good start by Mr. Abubakar Suleiman as CEO of the bank.
He said the results clearly show Suleiman’s ability to provide good leadership for the executive management of the bank since April 2018 when he took over from Mr. Yemi Adeola.
In his address, Chairman of the board of directors of the bank, Mr. Asue Ighodalo said, “Our financial results in 2018 reflect an even stronger business performance despite the impact of an ailing operating environment.”
According to him, the bank sustained earnings growth momentum in 2018 as gross earnings grew by 14% to N152.2 billion from N133.5 billion recorded in 2017. He added that although operating expenses increased by 26.4 to N66.9 billion due to investment in human capital and technology, the bank grew profit before tax by 17.1% to N9.5 billion and profit after tax by 14.9% to N9.2 billion.
The chairman said the bank closed the year under review with an improved balance sheet position as total assets grew steadily by about 2.9% to N1.1 trillion, thereby maintaining the over one trillion Naira mark achieved in the previous year.
“We continued to sustain operational efficiencies and our focus in growing the bank’s retail franchise. This resulted in an improved deposit base and moderate growth in our loan book, specifically riding on the 108.3% growth in retail and consumer loans delivered mainly by SPECTA – Nigeria’s fastest digital lending platform,” Ighodalo said.
He added that the bank was able to maintain the cost of funds at 7.4% despite high-interest environment which persisted for a significant part of the year.
On the future prospect of the bank, Ighodalo remarked that the Nigerian business environment for 2019 would remain a story of two halves.
He noted that the bank expects the first half of the year to be dominated largely by election activities at the expense of economic growth, heightened by subdued foreign capital inflows, increased pressure on the Naira and accelerated foreign exchange intervention programme while the second half would witness the likelihood of stronger consumer confidence.