Zenith Leads as Four Banks Record N431bn Profit in Nine Months


Goddy Egene

Investors in the banking sector are set to reap higher returns at the end of the year as four leading banks have reported a combined profit of N430.94 billion in their results for the nine months ended September 30, 2019.

The banks, Zenith Bank Plc, GTBank, United Bank for Africa Plc and FBN Holdings Plc, also reported total assets of N19.95 trillion.

Despite the challenging operating environment, the four banks that have so far released their nine months’ results have recorded increased performance following cost optimisation measures and better risk management strategies.

An analysis of the numbers showed that Zenith Bank Plc led with the highest profitability and total assets.
Zenith Bank ended the nine months with a profit after tax (PAT) of N150.7 billion, compared with N144.2 billion posted in the corresponding period of 2018.

GTBank closely followed with a PAT of N146.9 billion, up from N142.2 billion.

UBA posted PAT of N81.6 billion, which is 32.2 per cent above the N61.7 billion it made in the corresponding period of 2018. FBN Holdings Plc ended the nine months with N51.74 billion, compared with N44.8 billion in 2018.

In terms of assets, Zenith Bank led with N5.97 trillion, followed by FBN Holdings Plc with N5.73 trillion.

UBA ended the period with total assets of N4.96 trillion while GTBank recorded N3.29 trillion.

Zenith Bank, which is the leader in terms of highest profit and assets, said its cost optimisation strategies and aggressive retail banking drive were yielding the desired effects as cost-to-income ratio declined from 51.2 per cent in 2018 to 50.1 per cent 2019 with earnings per share (EPS) growing by five from N4.58 to N4.80 in 2019.

“Our retail and corporate banking franchises continued its momentum with customers’ deposits growing by seven per cent to N3.95 trillion from N3.69 trillion recorded as at December 2018, a reflection of increasing share of the industry’s deposits and customers’ confidence in the Zenith brand. These deposit acquisitions have directly contributed to our cost of funds improving from 3.3 per cent in 2018 to 2.95 per cent in 2019,” the bank said in a statement.

The bank added that it has continued to deploy capital to create viable risk assets with gross loans and advances growing by seven per cent from N2.02 trillion as at December 2018 to N2.2 trillion as September 2019 across both the retail and corporate segments.
“Our focus remains the search for bankable lending opportunities to ensure the attainment of the minimum regulatory loan-to-deposit ratio (LDR) of 65 per cent by December 31, 2019 without compromising our prudence. Our robust risk management framework has ensured that non-performing loans (NPL) ratio declined from 4.98 per cent in December 2018 to 4.95 per cent in the current period. Our commitment to maintaining a shock-proof balance sheet remains with liquidity and capital adequacy ratios at 63.8 per cent and 23.8 per cent respectively, both above regulatory thresholds,” it explained to shareholders and customers.

According to the bank, in this final quarter of the year, it would sustain its competitiveness and share of market in the corporate segment and build upon its digital foundations to reinforce our retail banking initiatives.

Also, the Group Managing Director/CEO, UBA Plc, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, said the resilience of the bank’s business model and its focused growth of earning assets have yielded a 10.8 per cent growth in interest income.

“In addition to the commendable yield on interest earning assets, we also achieved a 22.1 per cent growth in non-interest income, driven largely by the increased penetration of our superior digital banking offerings, credit expansion, remittances and other lifestyle transactional services. UBA remains committed to its vision of becoming the undisputed leading and dominant financial services institution in Africa. We will continue to innovate and lead in all our business segments, whilst delivering top-notch operational efficiencies and best-in-class customer service. We are beginning to realise early gains from our ongoing Transformation Programme and I am indeed excited about the days ahead,” Uzoka stated.

On his part, the Group Managing Director, FBN Holdings, U.K. Eke, said: “Our performance in the third quarter reflects the growth trajectory over the first nine months of the year, with significant strides made in transforming the group’s asset quality and diversifying our revenue streams across the board.

“During the third quarter, our non-performing loans (NPLs) declined further to 12.6 per cent as we approach the end of the curve in the resolution of our legacy portfolio and are confident of further reducing this to under 10 per cent by the end of the current financial year.
“Critically, we have continued to focus on enhancing our risk framework processes enabling an improvement in the quality of our loan book.

“Concurrently, we have also continued our drive towards ensuing long-term operational efficiency, resulting in a one-off cost increase pushing our CIR for the first nine months. In terms of our revenue generation, we have delivered further increases in our non-interest income, on the back of growth in electronic banking fees as well as improvements in transaction-led income.

“In line with our commitment, we have continued to improve our asset quality while further enhancing the group risk management and controls. These deliberate steps continue to yield positive results with the NPL ratio further declining to 12.4 per cent and impairment charges significantly decreasing by 63 per cent year-on-year. As a result, cost of risk is down to 1.8 per cent from 4.5 per cent in the previous year, providing a stronger platform for enhanced future profitability,” he added.

Commenting on the financial results, the Managing Director/CEO of GTBank, Mr. Segun Agbaje, said: “The bank’s third quarter result reflects the strength of our franchise and the quality of our business strategy to deliver sustainable long-term value for our shareholders.

“Going into the final quarter of the year, we will continue to differentiate ourselves by maintaining a high standard in service delivery and leveraging our resources, expertise and network to enrich the lives of our customers.

“That’s why, from November 10 – 11, 2019, we are organising the GTBank Fashion Weekend, the biggest consumer-focused event in Africa’s fashion industry, to give indigenous small businesses the platform and access to new markets and customers that they need to grow.”

“Overall, GTBank Plc continues to be best-in-class in the Nigerian banking industry in terms of all financial ratios i.e. post-tax return on equity (ROAE) of 32.3 per cent, post-tax return on assets (ROAA) of 5.8 per cent, and cost to income ratio of 36.9 per cent. These ratios are testament to experienced management, efficient balance sheet structure coupled with operational efficiency of the bank.”

The market is presently awaiting the nine-month scorecard of Access Bank Plc, which is also among the league of tier 1 banks in the country.