•Gross earnings hit N500bn
•Contributions from 19 African subsidiaries, France, UK, USA now 46%
By Goddy Egene
The United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) has announced its audited results for the full-year ended December 2019, recording impressive growth across top and bottom lines.
According to the 2019 financials filed at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on Friday, the bank’s gross earnings grew by 13.3 per cent to N559.8 billion, compared to N494 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2018.
The bank’s total assets also grew by 15.1 per cent to an unprecedented N5.6 trillion for the year under review.
This was the first time the bank’s gross earnings and assets would respectively cross the N500 billion and N5 trillion marks.
Notwithstanding the challenging business environment in Nigeria, the bank’s profit before tax was impressive at N111.3 billion, compared to the N106.8 billion recorded at the end of 2018.
Furthermore, its profit after tax rose by 13.3 per cent to N89.1 billion, compared to the N78.6 billion recorded in 2018.
On the cost side, UBA’s operating expenses grew by 10.1 per cent to N217.2 billion, as against the N197.3 billion in 2018, well below average inflation rate within the period, a reflection of cost efficiency gains.
These results depicted the bank’s deepening of its Pan-African business strategy, given the growth in the contribution of its 19 African subsidiaries to the Group’s net earnings and total assets.
Ex-Nigeria operations’ contributed 46 per cent to the Group’s profit before tax (PBT) in the year under review.
In addition, UBA has been deploying innovative lifestyle products to expand its market share across sub-Saharan Africa, leveraging its presence in the United Kingdom, United States of America and France, to build a true Africa’s global bank, facilitating trade and capital flows between Africa and the rest of the world.
In its tradition of rewarding shareholders, the bank proposed a final dividend of 80 kobo for every ordinary share of 50 kobo for the financial year that ended December 31, 2019.
The final dividend, which is subject to the affirmation of the shareholders at its Annual General Meeting, will bring the total dividend for the year to N1, as the bank had paid an interim dividend of 20 kobo earlier in the year.
The results showed that UBA recorded a remarkable 20.2 per cent growth (to N2.1 trillion) in loans to customers, whilst customer deposits increased by 14.4 percent to N3.8 trillion, compared to N3.3 trillion recorded in the corresponding period of 2018.
This reflected increased customer confidence, enhanced customer experience, early wins from the ongoing business transformation programme and the deepening of its retail banking franchise.
Commenting on the result, the Group Managing Director/CEO, Kennedy Uzoka, noted that 2019 was important for UBA Group as it gained further market share in most of its countries of operation.
“The year 2019 was a very remarkable one for UBA given the adverse market developments. Nonetheless, we achieved sizable growth in balance sheet and earnings, even as we reposition the bank for the future.
“Gross earnings crossed the N500 billion threshold to N559 billion, whilst total assets also crossed the N5 trillion mark for the first time to N5.6 trillion. Our strategy remains centred around unparalleled service to our esteemed customers.
“Accordingly, we are making significant investments in a technology-driven transformation journey. We have recorded early gains as shown in the 39 per cent growth in electronic banking income to N38.8 billion in 2019, from N27.9 billion in 2018.
“Our businesses are gaining commendable share in their markets across regions in Africa, as we deepen the scale and scope of our operations.”
Uzoka said he was excited about the synergy the UBA Group had built and the progress it had made in its transformation drive.
“We have positioned the bank as a truly pan-African banking franchise, leveraging our operations in France, the UK and the USA, to deepen intra-African trade and facilitate capital flows between Africa and the rest of the world.
“In 2020, we will pursue aggressive deepening of market share in all our subsidiaries, leveraging technology, rich human resources and our customer-first strategy to win in all the markets we operate, notwithstanding the challenges of our operating environment,” he added.
Also speaking on the performance, the Group CFO, Ugo Nwaghodoh, said the bank was well-positioned to sustain impressive performance across key financial indices, adding that already, some of its previous investment in digital and technological transformation are already paying off significantly.
“We navigated the fragile yield environment in our largest market to deliver an eight per cent growth in net interest income to N221.9 billion. This was bolstered by a 7.8 per cent and 13.9 per cent growth in interest income from corporate loans and investment securities respectively as well as a four per cent cost of funds driven by our stable retail deposits.
“Resulting from cost efficiency gains within the year, cost-to-income ratio moderated to 62.7 per cent (64% in 2018), whilst profit for the year grew 13.3 per cent, to N89.1billion, translating to 16.2 per cent return on average equity (RoAE),” Nwaghodoh said.
United Bank for Africa Plc is a leading pan-African financial institution, offering diverse banking and payments services to more than eighteen (18) million customers, across 1,000 business offices and customer touch points in 20 African countries.
With presence in New York, London and Paris, UBA is connecting people and businesses across Africa through retail, commercial and corporate banking, innovative cross-border payments and remittances, trade finance and ancillary banking services.