Following investors’ renewed interest amid the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) foreign exchange reform, Zenith Bank Plc’s market capitalisation crossed the N1 trillion mark on the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX).
The development, which attracted applause from investors and market participants, was clearly a reflection of the quality of leadership at the bank which is headed by Ebenezer Onyeagwu as its Group Managing Director.
So far, investors who invested in Zenith Bank, the most profitable bank in Nigeria have gained over N250 billion, when the stock price opened for trading this year at N24 per share.
Zenith Bank has now joined MTN Nigeria Communication (largest company in market capitalisation) , Airtel Africa, Plc, Dangote Cement Plc, BUA Foods Plc, BUA Cement Plc with market capitalisation in trillion of naira on the bourse. The six companies contributed 67 per cent or N21.560 trillion to market capitalisation that closed June 23, 2023 at N32.237 trillion.
Commenting on the development, the Vice President, Highcap Securities Limited, Mr. David Adnori, also attributed hike in Zenith Bank performance on banking stocks rally amid unification of the foreign exchange and fuel subsidy removal.
“These two policies have awakened the fundamentals of the macro-economy and it reflected in the Zenith Bank’s stock lately. These policies are masterstroke as market stakeholders have been clamouring for it a long time.
“We have been clamouring for full unification of the foreign exchange so that there will be clear rates for everyone to see.
“With the unification of foreign exchange, we have seen the full value of naira and if the naira is floated, it means foreign direct investors can seamlessly come-in and exit the stock market.”
In its unaudited results for the first quarter (Q1) ending 31st March 2023, Zenith Bank recorded an exceptional double-digit growth of 41 per cent in gross earnings, increasing from N191.5 billion in Q1 2022, to N270 billion in Q1 2023.
The statement of account submitted to the NGX indicated that the significant double-digit growth in the topline also boosted the bottom line, with the Group experiencing an impressive 27 per cent year-on-year (YoY) increase in Profit Before Tax (PBT), which rose from N68 billion in Q1 2022, to N86.6 billion in Q1 2023. It also showed that Zenith Bank’s Profit After Tax (PAT) grew by 13 per cent, from N58.2 billion to N66 billion during the same period.
The growth in the topline was propelled by substantial increases in both interest income and non-interest income. Interest income surged by 52 per cent from N126.4 billion in Q1 2022, to N191.6 billion in Q1 2023, while non-interest income expanded by 27 per cent from N57.2 billion to N72.8 billion.
The growth in interest income was attributed to the impact of risk asset repricing, while the increase in non-interest income primarily resulted from loan recoveries and foreign currency revaluation gains.
Regarding efficiency, the cost-to-income ratio improved from 55 per cent to 53.4 per cent in the current period, supported by a bolstered income line.
The cost of risk also moderated from 0.8 per cent to 0.7 per cent during the same period due to an enlarged loan book. However, Zenith Bank’s cost of funding doubled YoY from 1.3 percent in Q1 2022 to 2.7 percent in Q1 2023, owing to a considerable spike in interest rates between both periods as interest expense grew from N25.8 billion in Q1 2022 to N70.8 billion in Q1 2023.
This impacted the net interest margin (NIM), which reduced from 7.3 per cent to 6.9 per cent over the same period. Total assets expanded by nine per cent from N12.29 trillion in December 2022, to N13.36 trillion in March 2023, primarily driven by growth in customer deposits and other funding sources, such as borrowings. In addition, the results showed that in the review period, Zenith Bank’s customer deposits increased by two per cent from N8.98 trillion in December 2022, to N9.14 trillion in March 2023. Loans and advances also experienced marginal growth of one per cent from N4.12 trillion in December 2022, to N4.15 trillion in March 2023 as customers continued to adjust to the full impact of higher rates on risk assets.
Zenith Bank’s consistent record of outstanding performance under Onyeagwu, has garnered numerous accolades for the brand, including being acknowledged as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital for the 13th consecutive year in the 2022 Top 1000 World Banks Ranking published by The Banker Magazine.
True leaders such as Onyeagwu, are gifted with exceptional influencing and charismatic qualities which can drive others towards delivering their best. Inspirational leaders like him play crucial role in inspiring their teams and motivating them towards achieving superior performance. Such persons are also passionate about their environment and keep communicating the vision of the organisation in a way as to excite and encourage others towards delivering their best performances.
No wonder, he was recently adjudged the ‘Best Banking CEO of the Year in Africa’ in the International Banker 2023 Banking Awards. The award, published in the Spring 2023 Issue of the International Banker Magazine, saw Onyeagwu honoured alongside other individuals and banks from the Middle East and Africa.
Expressing gratitude over the recognition, Onyeagwu, commended Publishers of the International Banker for considering him a fitting recipient of the ‘Best Banking CEO of the Year in Africa’ award.
He stated, “This award reflects the bank’s position as a leading financial institution in Nigeria and the African continent. It also attests to our commitment to principles of sustainability and high ethical standards, which have become integral to our overall strategy as an institution.”
He dedicated the award to the Founder and Chairman, Jim Ovia, CFR, for his guidance and mentorship; the bank’s management team and staff, for being the shoulder upon which his achievements and success as CEO rests; and the bank’s customers for making Zenith Bank their bank of choice.
Onyeagwu’s outstanding career has led to him receiving multiple awards, including Bank CEO of the Year (2019) by Champion Newspaper, Bank CEO of the Year (2020, 2021 & 2022) by BusinessDay Newspaper, CEO of the Year (2020 and 2021) – SERAS Awards, and CEO of the Year (2022) – Leadership Newspaper.
As Group Managing Director/CEO, Onyeagwu has led Zenith Bank to achieve tremendous feats and milestones in financial performance, financial inclusion, corporate governance and sustainability.
These efforts have culminated in several local and international awards and recognitions including being recognised as Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital, for the 13th consecutive year, in the 2022 Top 1000 World Banks Ranking published by The Banker Magazine; Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards 2020 and 2022; Best Bank in Nigeria, for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria 2021 and 2022 in the World Finance Banking Awards; Best Corporate Governance Bank, Nigeria in the World Finance Corporate Governance Awards 2022; ‘Best in Corporate Governance’ Financial Services’ Africa, for four consecutive years from 2020 to 2023, by the Ethical Boardroom; and the Most Responsible Organisation in Africa 2021 by SERAS Awards.
Onyeagwu is the Chairman of the Body of Banks’ Chief Executive Officers, Nigeria and Chairman of Zenith Pensions Custodian Limited and Zenith Nominees Limited. He is also on the Board of Zenith Bank (UK) Limited, FMDQ Holdings Plc and Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF). Onyeagwu is a member of the International Monetary Conference (IMC), the Wall Street Journal CEO Council, member of the African Trade Gateway Advisory Council of the Africa Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), and member of the Governing Council of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN). He also served on the board of Zenith Bank Ghana Limited, Zenith General Insurance, Zenith Securities Limited, Zenith Assets Management Company, Zenith Medicare Limited, and Africa Finance Corporation (AFC).
On March 25, 2023, he was conferred with a Doctorate Degree in Business Administration by the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria’s first indigenous University, in recognition of his immense achievements as Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank as well as his contributions to the growth of the financial services sector in Nigeria and across the African continent. The award was given during the 50th convocation ceremony of the University.
In his acceptance speech, Onyeagwu expressed his gratitude to UNN for finding him a worthy recipient of the honorary doctoral degree in Business Administration of one of the leading universities in Nigeria, considering the rigorous selection process of awardees by the institution.
He said, “For me to have been considered and to have passed through the meticulous selection process makes it more dignifying because I have no connection with the university.”
Presenting the citation of Onyeagwu to the assemblage at the 50th convocation for the conferment of the doctorate in Business Administration, the orator of the university, Dr Ikenna Onwuegbuna, noted that the Zenith Bank CEO “is an alumnus of Auchi Polytechnic, the University of Oxford, England and Salford Business School, University of Salford, Manchester, United Kingdom, Delta State University, Abraka.”
He added, “Also, he is an alumnus of Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia Business School of Columbia University, and the Harvard Business School of Harvard University in the United States.”
Zenith Bank blazes the trail in digital banking in Nigeria; scoring several firsts in the deployment of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure to create innovative products that meet the needs of its teeming customers.
Driven by a culture of excellence and strict adherence to global best practices, the Bank has combined vision, skillful banking expertise, and cutting-edge technology to create products and services that anticipate and meet customers’ expectations; enable businesses to thrive and grow wealth for customers.
With a team of dedicated professionals, the bank leverages its robust Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure to provide cutting-edge solutions and products through its network of branches and electronic/digital channels.